Sophomore forward Jessica Vella nets game-winner for Friars at 3:02 of overtime

Sophomore forward Jessica Vella scored the game-winning goal for the Friars

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Sophomore Jessica Vella (Pickering, Ontario) scored in overtime and senior co-captain Jean O'Neill (Stafford, Pa.) notched a goal and an assist to lead the ninth-ranked Providence College women's ice hockey team past UConn, 2-1, Saturday at Schneider Arena.

At the 3:02 mark of the extra session, O'Neill fed a pass from the right corner. Vella, who was shielding off a defender in front of the Huskie goal, had the puck redirect off her boot and into the back of the net for the game winner. It was her third score of the season.

It was the visitors who struck first. Early in the opening period, Connecticut freshman Taylor Gross broke down the right wing on a 2-on-1 break. Gross fed a cutting Stephanie Raithby, who redirected the puck over the goalie's shoulder for a 1-0 Huskie advantage.

The Friars evened the game with 1.2 seconds remaining in the first period. Junior Jen Friedman (San Gabriel, Calif.) blasted a slapshot from the left point, intending to beat the buzzer. The rising rocket was tipped home by the stick blade of O'Neill for her seventh of the season.

Both goalies were outstanding. UConn freshman Nicole Panicca made 32 stops while Friar junior Genevieve Lacasse halted 30. Perhaps the most dazzling of Lacasse's saves came midway through the third period. Screening the goalie, UConn senior Jennifer Chaisson redirected a shot taken from the point. Lacasse got the puck with her left pad despite momentum carrying her to the right.

The Friars and Huskies take their rivalry outside tomorrow. The teams will meet at a specially constructed rink at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. The 4 p.m. face-off will be a part of Whalers Hockey Fest.

Providence returns home for a pair with Vermont next weekend. After a meeting on Saturday, February 19, the teams will meet again on the Friar's Senior Day on Sunday, February 20. The five members of the class of 2011 will be honored before puck drop. Both weekend contests start at 1 p.m. and tickets are available by calling the PC ticket office at (401) 865 GOPC.