HAMDEN, Conn. - Sophomore forward Chelsea Illchuk (Lockport, Manitoba) scored in double overtime to propel the Quinnipiac University women's ice hockey team to their first-ever playoff victory as they defeated Rensselaer, 2-1, Friday evening. Freshman goaltender Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) turned aside a season-high 40 saves as the Bobcats improve to 19-8-8 on the year. With the win, Quinnipiac improves to 1-0 in the best-of-three game series with the Engineers.
After 35 minutes of back-and-forth action, Rensselaer opened up the scoring on a power play opportunity. Positioned at the left goal post, senior Allison Wright collected a pass from Taylor Horton across the face of the net. Wright one-timed the pass, lifting the puck into the upper-right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Sophomore Alisa Harrison was also credited with an assist on the play.
The Bobcats capitalized on a power play of their own with 5:28 remaining in the third period to even the score at 1-1. Senior forward Kallie Flor (Farmington, Minn.) won the faceoff in the right circle and tapped the puck back to freshman defenseman Felica Vieweg (Port Orange, Fla.) at the left point before skating to the front of the net. Vieweg dished to Flor in front of the goaltender and the senior fired two consecutive shots with her second shot clearing the goaltender's reach into the back of the net. The goal was her 14th of the season and forced the first tournament-overtime situation in program history.
Sophomore defensemen Jordan Elkins (Wasilla, Alaska) saw the best scoring opportunity for Quinnipiac in the first overtime period. Elkins collected the puck at the right point and ripped a shot on net that ricocheted off the inner crossbar out of play.
Midway through the second overtime period, freshman forward Kristen Eklund (Barrington, R.I.) gained possession in the Bobcats' defensive zone and fed it up the right boards to Illchuk at center ice. Illchuk, along with linemate Evelina Husar (Eskilstuna, Sweden) raced up ice in a two-on-one attack on net. Illchuk carried the puck all the way in and fired it through the pads of Engineers' goaltender, Sonja van der Bliek, for the 2-1 victory. Elkins also recorded an assist on Illchuk's third goal of the season.
Vigilanti stopped 40 shots in the victory, including 12 saves apiece in the third and first overtime period. Her counterpart, van der Bliek, turned aside 33 shots by the Bobcats in the loss.
Quinnipiac returns to action tomorrow afternoon when they host the Engineers in game two of the three-game playoff series. That game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center.