PRINCETON, N.J. - Sophomore forward Brittany Lyons' (Canton, Mass.) dramatic game-winning goal with five seconds remaining in regulation gave Quinnipiac women's ice hockey the victory, 2-1, in the first game of this best-of-three ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal matchup.
Lyons' goal came to fruition after a tremendous hustle play from fellow line mate, freshman forward Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario). Babstock tracked down her own shot after it was initially saved and darted a pass from behind the net to Lyons who buried her attempt from close range. Lyons, who factored in both goals on the evening, earned her 11th goal of the season, while Babstock was credited with her 27th helper on the year
The competitive playoff atmosphere fostered much action in the first period, but with little results, as both teams entered the locker rooms scoreless after the first 20 minutes of play. The stanza was evenly played on both sides of the puck, with Quinnipiac holding the slight shot advantage, 7-5. Quinnipiac held the best scoring opportunity in the frame, as Babstock nearly gave the Bobcats the lead with 7:27 remaining in the frame. Babstock's quick shot in front of the net, which was partially deflected by Princeton junior goaltender Rachel Weber, bounced off the top of the cross bar and harmlessly back into play.
Princeton jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the second period, as senior defender Sasha Sherry scored her eighth goal of the season for the Tigers. Following the faceoff at center ice, Princeton controlled the puck and skated into Quinnipiac's defensive zone. A hard slap shot from the point was initially turned away by sophomore goaltender Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario), yet the Tigers were quick to pounce on the rebound. Sherry's goal, which floated over the right shoulder of Vigilanti, was assisted by junior forwards Danielle DiCesare and Paula Romanchuk.
The Bobcats responded with a goal of their own on a blast from junior defender Bethany Dymarczyk (Hamden, Conn.) with 7:47 remaining in the second period. The play developed at center ice, as Lyons dished the puck up to the streaking defender. Dymarczyk took one look at the net before she reared back and smoked the puck past Weber. The goal for Dymarczyk was her fifth of the season, while the assist for Lyons was her ninth.
Despite formidable scoring chances for each squad in the third period, both Vigilanti and Weber (two of the three nominees for this year's 2010-11 ECAC Hockey/MLX Skates Goaltender of the Year award) kept the opposition at bay for just about the entire frame. However, Lyons' goal helped keep the game from heading into overtime as the Bobcats skated off the ice with the 2-1 win.
Vigilanti turned away 20 shots in the contest, while Weber made 23 saves overall. On the evening, both teams went scoreless on its power play chancesQuinnipiac returns to action tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, Feb. 26, for game two of this best-of-three series, when it faces the Tigers at 4 p.m.