March 1, 2014

Chelsea Laden, Bobcat Defense Stands Tall for No. 7 Women's Ice Hockey in Series-Clinching Victory Over St. Lawrence, 2-1

HAMDEN, Conn. – It took every ounce of energy they had left but when all was said and done the No. 7 Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team came away with a triumphant 2-1 series-clinching victory over St. Lawrence from High Point Solutions Arena. As the clock wound down under three minutes the Saints and Bobcats were both playing desperate hockey as St. Lawrence was flinging the puck towards the net at every opportunity while Quinnipiac was diving and sticking away at every loose puck trying to get a clear. In the end, a few timely blocks from the Bobcats and several big saves from junior goalie Chelsea Laden (Lakeville, Minn.) proved enough for the home team to advance to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals.

The Bobcats (22-5-9, 11-4-7 ECAC Hockey) await to hear word of their next opponent as they will either take on the No. 1 seed Clarkson or No. 3 seed Cornell based on the outcome of the Quarterfinal series between No. 2 Harvard and No. 7 Yale. Either way, Quinnipiac moves on to their third ECAC Hockey Semifinal appearance in program history and will travel up to Potsdam, N.Y. (host Clarkson University) with Semifinal games slated for Saturday, March 8.

Laden proved her worth on Saturday as she once again put together a dominating performance with 25 saves in net, allowing just one goal throughout the two-game playoff series. The junior standout was at her best when her team needed it most down the stretch as St. Lawrence controlled play throughout the third period, outshooting the Bobcats 12-2, but could only muster one goal late with just over two minutes remaining. Laden's career-best shutout streak of 227:12 was snapped as a Mel Desrochers goal with 2:02 remaining was the first tally Laden had allowed since the first period against Cornell back on Feb. 21.

Junior Shiann Darkangelo (Brighton, Mich.) continued her stellar play this weekend with two points (one goal, one assist) on two Bobcat goals as she put up five total points (three goals, two assists) throughout the two-game playoff series. On Saturday she assisted on a goal from senior Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario) and then found the back of the net on the eventual game-winning goal late in the second period as Darkangelo finished with both game-winners against the Saints in the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals.

Babstock's goal in the first was her 19th tally of the season and gives her sole possession of second place on the all-time Quinnipiac hockey (male or female) scoring list, passing Todd Johnson '89 with 203 career points (95 goals, 108 assists). With Babstock's 49 points this season, combined with Darkangelo's 40, this year's Bobcat squad is the first ever to have two 40-point scorers.

Quinnipiac avenged their loss in the 2013 ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals to the Saints with their 2-1 victory on Saturday and they started the game, much like Friday night's 5-0 shutout, with an early goal in the first period. The Bobcats' freshman forward Emma Woods (Burford, Ontario) found Darkangelo open in the neutral zone to start the scoring play. Darkangelo then took advantage of an over-play from the Saints' defender and flicked a saucer pass up to Babstock for a breakaway in on St. Lawrence goalie Carmen MacDonald. Babstock had plenty of time and used every second as she patiently waited for MacDonald to go down before switching to her backhand and sliding the puck past her outstretched glove to give her team an early 1-0 lead.

Play was back-and-forth throughout the remainder of the first and much of the second as both defenses settled in and both goaltenders kept their teams in the game. Quinnipiac's second goal didn't come until 14:45 in the second period of a fortuitous bounce as Darkangelo's wrist shot from the near side faceoff dot deflected off a Saint Lawrence defender's skate and past MacDonald five-hole. The referee initially waved the goal off but after a lengthy review the referees determined the Quinnipiac player nearest to the play didn't kick the puck, thus resulting in a Bobcat goal. Sophomores Nicole Brown (Oshawa, Ontario) and Cydney Roesler (Stittsville, Ontario) were credited with their 8th and 14th assists, respectively.

St. Lawrence played desperate hockey down the stretch as they put up 12 shots-on-goal in the final frame compared to just two for the Bobcats. The play intensified down the stretch with perhaps the biggest save of the night coming from Babstock. Laden made an initial save on the play but the rebound caromed off her chest pads and over to the near side post. As she dove to try and grab the rebound, the puck bounced loose towards the center of the crease. The Bobcat defense crashed the crease and managed to lift the stick of the Saints' Abbey McRae while several jabs at the puck were met by Babstock's chest as she was sent to the ice amid the melee at the net.

Desrochers managed to find the back of the net for the Saints who were skating six-on-four as they pulled MacDonald on a late power play opportunity. MacDonald was pulled again at 1:50 but Laden and the Bobcat defense did a masterful job of clearing away the opportunities before the final horn sounded, leading to a massive celebration at Laden's net.

The Bobcats' 22nd victory of the season ties a single-season program record while they advance to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals for the third time in program history and first time since 2012 when they were defeated by Cornell, 5-1. Quinnipiac awaits the winner of the Harvard, Yale Quarterfinal series as they will either play Clarkson (if Harvard win) or Cornell (if Yale wins) next weekend from Cheel Arena.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu