PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In the 2009 Skating Strides game, the Providence College women's hockey team came away with its first overtime victory of the season as they scored with only a minute remaining to take down Northeastern, 3-2. Senior forward Mari Pehkonen (Tampere, Finland) scored the game-winning goal while freshman Abby Gauthier (Lynn, Mass.) notched two assists on the night. The Friars now stand at 16-11-2 (11-4-1 HE) while Northeastern falls to 10-15-3 (5-10-1). With the victory, PC now stands tied for first with New Hampshire in Hockey East play.
In a game that saw Providence dominate in shots with a final edge of 56-24, Northeastern was able to jump on top, 2-0. The Huskies opened the scoring at 7:01 of the first period when Annie Hogan put home a loose puck after a shot from Ali Bielawski. Alyssa Wohlfeiler registered an assist on the play as well. The Friars had their chances in the first but NU was able to fend off the Friar attack with a little help from the iron as PC hit the post on two separate occasions in the first 20 minutes. After one period of play, Providence held a slim advantage in shots, 10-9.
Providence came out for the second period looking to create turnovers with a continuous fore-check in the Huskie zone. Providence put six shots on frame compared to one for NU to open the period but the Huskies made the most of their best chance as Kristi Kehoe scored on just the second shot of the period for Northeastern at 4:50. Kehoe received a pass from Lindsay Berman at the blue line and came in on Providence netminder Genevieve Lacasse (Scarborough, Ont.) before lifting a shot over the goalies right shoulder to go up, 2-0.
The 2-0 lead would not hold up as Providence continued to pressure the Huskies, limiting NU to just three shots in the final 15 minutes of play. The Friars got on the board at 9:21 with a power-play strike from senior Erin Normore (Cambridge, Ont.). Normore set up on the blue line with classmate Brittany Simpson (Barrie, Ont.). The two exchanged a quick series of passes before Normore sent a slap shot over the right shoulder of Northeastern netminder Florence Schelling for her seventh goal of the season. Simpson earned her 12th assist on the play.
Just 22 seconds later, PC would even the score when sophomore Jean O'Neill (Strafford, Pa.) redirected a shot off the stick of Gauthier for her fifth goal of the year. Leigh Riley (Lexington, Mass.) earned her first assist of the season on the play. The Friars continued the offensive onslaught for the remaining 10 minutes as they finished the period with 24 shots on frame, the most in a single period this season.
After two, Lacasse had 12 saves while Schelling was forced to make 32 for Northeastern.
The Friars outshot NU 20-7 over the final 20 minutes but neither team was able to break the deadlock in the third period, sending the game into overtime. With only a minute on the clock, Ashley Cottrell (Sterling Heights, Mich.) broke up a play in the neutral zone. Gauthier scooped up the loose puck and raced down the right side of the slot with Pehkonen streaking down the left on a two-on-one advantage. Gauthier waited for the defender to commit before sending a pass across the slot Pehkonen who made no mistake about it, sending the goalies water bottle off the cage for her eighth goal of the year.
This was the first overtime victory of the season for PC as they suffered a shootout loss to BU and two first-minute defeats in the last two overtime contests.
Captain Brittany Simpson on the overtime thriller, "We were putting a lot of shots on net and we kept fighting this game, all the way till the end. We forced Northeastern to make the first mistake and capitalized compared to those past games when we seemed to let up and played on our heels."
Schelling finished the game with an impressive 53 saves, the most by an opposing goalie since Maine's Genevieve Turgeon stopped 58 shots in a 7-2 PC victory on December 2, 2007. Lacasse stopped 22 shots and improves to 14-8 on the year.
Providence raised over $2,500 for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation achieving the goal set at the beginning of the season to raise more than the previous year's $2,100. Providence Dean, and son of the late Gloria Gemma, Joe Gemma accepted a check prior to the game from Simpson and the rest of the senior class and coaches.
Simpson on 2009 Skating Strides, "It hits close to home for us knowing that Dean Gemma's mother passed away due to breast cancer. I'm so proud that we were able to raise that much money this year. It really means a lot to us to do what we can for the fight against breast cancer"
The Friars will travel to Boston tomorrow for the Huskies' Skating Strides event. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Matthews Arena.