HAMDEN, Conn. – The No. 4 seeded Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team pressured, battled and fought all evening but No. 5 St. Lawrence's Kayla Raniwsky found the game-winner 10 minutes into the overtime period to lift the Saints to a 1-0 Game One victory in the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals from High Point Solutions Arena on Friday. The Bobcats fired shots from all angles including a program record 13 from junior Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario) but nothing got through St. Lawrence goalie Carmen MacDonald who recorded a career high 46-save shutout. The Bobcats (19-11-4, 13-6-3 ECAC Hockey) and Saints (18-12-5, 12-6-4) will battle again tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Game Two in the best-of-three series from High Point Solutions Arena.
In what was the Bobcats' first home playoff series since 2010 and just their second time in program history, Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence were locked in a defensive struggle all night. With the loss, Quinnipiac falls for the first time in Game One of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals in four appearances and their all-time postseason mark drops to 5-6. St. Lawrence also scored just their second victory over the Bobcats in their last nine meetings (5-2-2 record favoring Quinnipiac).
Quinnipiac senior goalie Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) took the hard luck defeat on Friday as the stalwart continued her amazing streak of 10 straight games now allowing one goal or less in a game. She posted a season-high 38 saves in the loss as her averages continue to climb as the senior goalie has posted a .975 save percentage (235 saves on 241 shots) with a 0.52 goals-against average in the 10-game span.
The Bobcats were all over St. Lawrence in the first period as they owned a 17-7 shots-on-goal advantage through the first 20 minutes of play. MacDonald however stymied every scoring chance including one of the two Quinnipiac power plays on the evening. The sophomore goalie used her size to limit the Quinnipiac forwards from finding loose pucks in front and finishing any transition scoring chances.
Play throughout the second period changed hands as the Saints started to impose their will on Vigilanti and the Bobcat defense. The Saints had a couple near-misses down in front including a couple backside rebounds that were left on the ice for a split second but not long enough before the Bobcat defenders were on the case with the clearance.
Each team had a pair of prime opportunities in the third period as the Saints were on the doorstep near the five minute mark of the third stanza. St. Lawrence leading scorer Kelly Sabatine skated in on Vigilanti's right until she was within 10 feet of the goaltender. Vigilanti came far out of the net but Sabatine's shot was lifted over the goalie's pads and barley nicked the crossbar to deny the scoring opportunity.
The Bobcats had a chance of their own with less than five minutes to play as Babstock was skating in off a line change uncovered into the St. Lawrence defensive end. The crossing pass from the far side boards was ripped with a one-timer from Babstock put the rocket shot flew just over the crossbar and away for another missed opportunity.
Finally with 9:04 showing in the third period, St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells made a game-changed play as he called a timeout after an icing call had his skaters winded. The timeout allowed for the Saint line to gain their breath, win the faceoff and work the puck up ice. The Saints' Jacqueline Wand threw the puck behind Vigilanti's goal. Raniwsky chased down the dump in, escaped the backcheck, skated around the post and beat Vigilanti five hole for the game-winner.
These two teams will meet again on Saturday at 4 p.m. from the High Point Solutions Arena. Quinnipiac needs a victory to stay alive in the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals while St. Lawrence needs just one more victory to seal their spot in the ECAC Hockey Semifinals.
Contact: Maxx McNall; firstname.lastname@example.org