POTSDAM, N.Y. – The No. 6-seeded Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team used three first period goals to take command of the game, en route to its 4-1 win over No. 3-seeded Clarkson in the first game of the best-of-three ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals matchup on Friday evening at Cheel Arena.
Freshman forward Nicole Kosta (Mississauga, Ontario) led the way with two goals and an assist, while sophomore forwards Erica Uden Johansson (Sundsvall, Sweden), who tallied a goal and two assists, and Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario), one goal and one assist, each contributed in the Bobcats offensive effort.
The Bobcats hit the ice in full stride and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, scoring three goals within the first seven minutes of action. Uden Johansson potted Quinnipiac's first goal at the 4:05 mark into the frame with an on-target wrister from just inside the blue line. The shot occurred moments before the Bobcats intended to change lines, but sophomore goalie Erica Howe misread the puck's trajectory, and proceeded to allow the puck to tip off her mitt and into the back of the net. Senior defender Bethany Dymarczyk (Hamden, Conn.) earned her seventh assist of the year on the score, sliding the puck up-ice to Uden Johansson from deep in Quinnipiac's defensive zone.
Quinnipiac once again caught the Golden Knights on their heels just over a minute later at the 5:26 mark into the period, as Kosta netted her first-career playoff goal to give the Bobcats the 2-0 lead. Kosta received a pass in front from Babstock after the fellow first-liner attacked Clarkson with ferocious forechecking deep in its defensive third of the ice. Babstock won the puck in the corner, eyed Kosta in front, and provided the crisp centering pass for her program-best fourth career playoff assist. On the score, Uden Johansson was also credited with the assist after the forward dumped the puck into the zone ahead of the Babstock, who was streaking into the zone.
Babstock and Quinnipiac's first line completed the hat trick of goals in the opening frame, as Babstock's goal at the 6:43 mark into the stanza increased the lead to 3-0. Kosta found Babstock in the slot where the sophomore threw an impressive deke on a Golden Knights defender before firing a shot on net. Howe made the first save, but was unable to prevent Babstock from knocking in the point-blank shot for her second-career playoff goal. Kosta picked up her team-high 21st assist of the season on the goal.
Clarkson emerged from the locker rooms refocused, yet Quinnipiac's defense, anchored by junior goaltender Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario), refused to concede a goal in the second period of action. Senior forward Juana Baribeau's shot on the doorstep of Vigilanti's crease at the 2:50 mark into the second period nearly gave the Golden Knights their first score, but the veteran goaltender made the crucial pad save to preserve the three-goal lead.
Vigilanti made a total of eight saves in the second period alone en route to a game-high 25 saves. Her counterpart Howe turned away four shots in the second, and made 22 saves overall for the Golden Knights in the contest.
Clarkson ended nearly 50 minutes of scoreless hockey with its first goal of the game at the 13:56 mark into the third stanza. Senior defender Katelyn Ptolemy took a slap shot from the point towards the congestion in front of Vigilanti's net. The junior goaltender was screened on the play and did not see the puck as it kissed the underside of the crossbar, tightening the score, 3-1.
Quinnipiac sealed the game with an empty net score with exactly three minutes remaining in regulation on Kosta's second goal of the game, giving the game its final score, 4-1. Uden Johansson made a terrific pass to the freshman, who knocked down the pass with her hand and skated in unmarked for the score.
Clarkson committed the only two penalties of the game, while Quinnipiac stayed out of the penalty box all evening.
Quinnipiac looks for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, Feb. 25th when it plays Clarkson in Game 2 at 4 p.m. in Potsdam, N.Y.
ECAC Hockey Playoff Schedule
No. 8 BROWN at No. 1 CORNELL (Cornell leads series, 1-0)
Friday: Cornel-4 Brown-2
Saturday: 2 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. (if necessary)
No. 7 PRINCETON at No. 2 HARVARD (Harvard leads series, 1-0)
Friday: Harvard-5 Princeton-3
Saturday: 3 p.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m. (if necessary)
No. 6 QUINNIPIAC at No. 3 CLARKSON (Quinnipiac leads series, 1-0)
Friday: :Quinnipiac-4 Clarkson-1
Saturday: 4 p.m.
Sunday: 4 p.m. (if necessary)
No. 5 ST. LAWRENCE at No. 4 DARTMOUTH (St. Lawrence leads series, 1-0)
Friday: St. Lawrence-4 Dartmouth-3 (Overtime)
Saturday: 2 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. (if necessary)
Contact: Ross Bennett, email@example.com