ITHACA, N.Y. - The No. 5 seeded Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team fell to No. 1 seeded Cornell, 4-3, in its ECAC Hockey Semifinals matchup on Thursday evening at Lynah Rink. Quinnipiac ends its most successful season in program history with a 22-12-3 overall record, while Cornell improves its overall record to 29-2-1 and moves on to host the ECAC Hockey Championship game on Saturday, Mar. 5.
Quinnipiac gave the No. 2 ranked team in the country all it could handle, scoring three goals against the top-ranked defense (1.00 goals against average) in the country. This marked only the third time all season the Big Red have allowed three or more goals in a contest. A ferocious finish by the Bobcats nearly contributed to the game-tying fourth goal with six seconds remaining on a shot from senior forward Kelley Davies (Chesapeake, Va.), but Cornell avoided the late goal and escaped with the victory.
Cornell found itself leading, 1-0, heading into the locker rooms after the first 20 minutes of play. Junior forward Chelsea Karpenko netted the Big Red's first goal with just 1:47 remaining in the frame. After the Bobcats were able to withstand a Cornell five on three advantage due to overlapping penalties, the Big Red would not be denied on its traditional extra skater advantage. Karpenko took a wrist shot through traffic in front of the crease and watched as the puck sailed into the back of the net for her 19th goal of the season. On the score, Karpenko was assisted by sophomore defender Laura Fortino and junior forward Catherine White. In the frame, Cornell held the slight shot advantage, eight to seven, while both teams were whistled for two penalties.
Cornell extended its lead to 2-0 in the early stages of the second period at the 5:13 mark. Freshman forward Jessica Campbell weaved her way into the zone and sniped a wrist shot over the shoulder of sophomore Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) for her 11th goal of the season. Assisting on the goal was senior forward Amber Overguard.
Quinnipiac responded with its first goal of the contest just over two minutes later at the 7:28 mark into the second stanza, as freshman forward Erica Uden Johansson (Sundsvall, Sweden) tallied her 11th goal of the season. The freshman was denied on her first attempt, but quickly recollected the puck and pushed it past junior goaltender Amanda Mazotta to bring the score to 2-1.
Both sides had multiple scoring opportunities towards the latter stages of the second period, yet it was Cornell which capitalized at the 16:23 mark to extend its lead to 3-1. Following a handful of tremendous saves by Vigilanti, senior forward Hayley Hughes found an opening between the pads of the sophomore netminder for her 15th tally of the season. She was assisted by freshman forward Brianne Jenner on the goal.
Vigilanti made a game-high 13 saves in the period en route to a 27-save performance. Her counterpart Mazzotta made eight saves in the frame and turned away 21 overall shots in the contest.
The Bobcats grabbed an early third period goal just under two minutes into the final stanza at the 1:50 mark, as sophomore forward Brittany Lyons (Canton, Mass.) knocked home her 12th goal of the season. Lyons, who positioned herself directly in front of the crease, corralled the rebound off an initially saved shot from the stick of junior defender Jordan Elkins (Wasilla, Alaska). Without a defender in sight, Lyons batted the bounding puck past a helpless Mazzotta to bring the score to 3-2.
The Big Red pushed its lead back to two goals at the 6:05 mark into the third period on Hughes' second goal of the contest. Fortino found Hughes with a back door pass and the senior one-timed in her 16th tally of the season. Junior forward Rebecca Johnston was also credited with an assist on the score.
Quinnipiac refused to let Cornell rest on its laurels, as its aggressive play led to its third goal of the contest at the 14:27 mark into the third period. The power play goal came directly off a faceoff, as freshman forward Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario) won the faceoff in Cornell's defensive zone and kicked back the puck to junior defender Bethany Dymarczyk (Hamden, Conn.). Dymarczyk took one of her patented slap shots from the point and netted her sixth goal of the season. Babstock earned her team-high 29th assist of the season on the score.
Each team went a respective 1 for 4 on its power play chances in the game.