POTSDAM, N.Y. – Junior goaltender Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) turned in her seventh shutout of the season and 21st clean sheet of her career, leading the No. 6 Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team to a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Clarkson in the deciding Game 3 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals Playoff Series. With the win, Quinnipiac ends Clarkson's season, winning the series two-games-to-one, to continue on to its second-consecutive ECAC Hockey Semifinals appearance.
Vigilanti's game-high 23 saves on 23 shots provided the junior with her second-career playoff shutout, as her first blank slate occurred during last year's series clinching game against Princeton, which carried the Bobcats into the Semifinals.
Freshman forward Nicole Kosta (Mississauga, Ontario) tallied the game-winner for the Bobcats on a power-play score at the 11:19 mark into the second period, while junior forward Brittany Lyons (Canton, Mass.) added an insurance goal minutes later, propelling Quinnipiac to the Semifinals for a rematch of last year's Semifinals game, once again against No. 1 Cornell.
Both teams came out with expected high energy, yet the game remained scoreless through the first 20 minutes of action. Despite the stalemate, it was Quinnipiac that nearly netted the first goal on two separate occasions, both coming off the stick of sophomore forward Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario). With exactly seven minutes gone by in the period, Babstock found herself open in front with the puck and picked her spot, but sophomore goalie Erica Howe turned away the shot. Babstock then nearly gave Quinnipiac the 1-0 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the period on a breakaway score, but a momentary mishandle of the puck allowed the Clarkson defender to catch up with her, albeit with an illegal hook, sending the Golden Knights defender to the penalty box.
The Bobcats snatched the first goal of the game at the 11:19 mark into the second period on their fourth power-play of the contest, as Kosta netted her third goal of the playoff series. After a succession of passes from Quinnipiac's power-play unit, junior defender Regan Boulton (Brandon, Manitoba) found Babstock on the right side of the goal line. Babstock quickly slid the puck up to Kosta, who flipped a powerful backhanded shot past Howe to give the Bobcats the 1-0 lead.
Riding its wave of momentum, Quinnipiac extended its lead to 2-0 just over four minutes later on Lyons' (Canton, Mass.) first goal of the series and seventh goal of the season. Lyons received a pass at the point, glided into the zone, and took a terrific shot from the middle of the faceoff circle. Howe attempted to punch the puck away, but it instead slipped through her pads for the score.
A total of six penalties were called during the second stanza alone, as each squad was whistled for three infractions. The Bobcats' penalty-kill unit did well to hold off the Golden Knights during the frame, and were solid all afternoon, holding Clarkson scoreless on its six opportunities. Quinnipiac went 1-for-6 on its power-play opportunities during the game.
Following the two quick scores, Quinnipiac's defense settled in to frustrate Clarkson for the remainder of the game. Vigilanti matched her own game-high period total of nine saves, while the defense blocked three of its game-high 15 shots in the final stanza.
Clarkson pulled Howe with 3:08 remaining in the game as a last ditch effort, but was unable to penetrate Quinnipiac's defensive unit for a goal.
Quinnipiac returns to action next weekend when it travels to Ithaca, N.Y. to face No. 1 Cornell in the Semifinals of the ECAC Hockey Tournament, Friday, March 2 at 3:30 p.m. No. 2 Harvard will face No. 5 St. Lawrence in the other Semifinals matchup.
ECAC Hockey Playoff Schedule
No. 8 BROWN at No. 1 CORNELL (Cornell wins series, 2-0)
Friday: Cornel-4 Brown-2
Saturday: Cornell-6 Brown-0
No. 7 PRINCETON at No. 2 HARVARD (Harvard leads series, 2-0)
Friday: Harvard-5 Princeton-3
Saturday: Harvard-4 Princeton-3 (Overtime)
No. 6 QUINNIPIAC at No. 3 CLARKSON (Quinnipiac wins series, 2-1)
Friday: :Quinnipiac-4 Clarkson-1
Saturday: Clarkson-2 Quinnipiac-1
Sunday: Quinnipiac-2 Clarkson-0
No. 5 ST. LAWRENCE at No. 4 DARTMOUTH (St. Lawrence wins series, 2-0)
Friday: St. Lawrence-4 Dartmouth-3 (Overtime)
Saturday: St.. Lawrence-2 Dartmouth-0
Contact: Ross Bennett, email@example.com