posted on: Thursday December 2, 2010
Al Daniel ’11/ Sports Staff
After spending the better part of November in a half-and-half rut, constantly alternating between wins and losses, the Women’s Hockey Team has rediscovered the art of a weekend sweep.
Following up on Friday’s 3-2 Mayor’s Cup triumph, the Friars stamped a 2-1 squeaker past Union at Schneider Arena Sunday. It was their first pair of consecutive victories since the weekend of Oct. 15, when they rounded out a five-game tear. It helped them to pole-vault back into the national rankings, sharing USCHO’s No. 10 slot with Northeastern this week.
Perhaps most crucially, though, it sealed them a 9-3-0 record against non-conference opponents, the program’s first winning inter-league record since the 2005-06 season. While Head Coach Bob Deraney admits that his pupils still have yet to flaunt the top of their game, he welcomes the thicker ice as they shift to the remainder of the Hockey East pennant race.
“I want to count the two McGill [exhibition] games in there too, because McGill has beaten some NCAA teams,” Deraney said. “So technically we’re 11-3, which I think is the best non-league record we’ve ever had, and that’s a credit to the group.
“I’ve told them that this team has the ability to be one of the best teams I’ve ever coached here at Providence College. And that’s why I say to you, I’m not satisfied with winning trophies and I’m not satisfied with winning games. We’re chasing something greater than that. We’re chasing excellence, trying to play the game the way we’re capable of playing, not just play-to-play or shift-to-shift, but period-to-period.
“We want to put together a complete game. That’s what we’re chasing right now.”
Last Sunday, the Friars had a radiant chance to flatten the doors faster than a Black Friday throng at Wal-Mart. Tripping and interference minors to Union’s Kelly Alyea and Emma Rambo—called at 3:25 and 4:05 respectively in the first period—granted them two minutes and 40 consecutive seconds of power-play time, including an 80-second 5-on-3 segment.
But Dutchwomen goaltender Kate Gallagher (29 saves) repelled all five shots she faced as well as the other eight before intermission, three of which came during another penalty kill.
Getting a fourth unanswered opportunity at 0:50 of the middle frame, PC’s barren power-play brigade finally clicked to seize a 1-0 lead. A minute-long swarm in Union territory culminated in Abby Gauthier ’12, stationed at the backdoor to the right of Gallagher, tipping in a diagonal feed from Ashley Cottrell ’12.
The Friars ultimately registered 11 unanswered stabs at Gallagher for the first 15 minutes of the second period, not allotting the Dutchwomen any hacks at Genevieve Lacasse until the final three minutes. But Gallagher continued to hold fort until five seconds after the Dutchwomen killed their seventh penalty of the day.
While a jailbreaking Marissa Gentile made her way back into the play, PC’s Jen Friedman ’12 vacuumed a vain clearing attempt at the straightaway point and nailed an insurance goal—her second of the weekend—through a screen and in off the pipe with 12:21 to spare.
The Friedman-issued cushion was enlisted to service a mere 3:06 later when, during a two-minute hooking sentence against Gauthier, Union’s Emilie Arsenault beat Lacasse through the five-hole on an ice-kisser from the slot.
For the remaining 9:15 of action, the keyed-up visitors controlled the biscuit, issuing each of the last six shots on net, including three with an extra attacker within the final 30 seconds. But Lacasse, the nation’s leader in cumulative saves (511) and minutes played (1025:57), denied everything, compensating her skating mates’ efforts.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Deraney. “[Gallagher] played extremely well. I don’t think the score was indicative of our territorial advantage, so you’ve got to give them credit. She kept them in the game and it’s putting us in situations that I think will help us down the road. “When you’re defending one-goal leads with minutes to go or seconds to go, you get to work on situational things that you don’t normally get to work on. I’m very proud of the way we’ve executed in those challenging situations,” said Deraney.