ITHACA, N.Y. – The No. 6-seeded Quinnipiac women's ice hockey played a gritty 60 minutes of action against No. 1-seeded Cornell in the Semifinals of the ECAC Hockey Tournament, but eventually fell to the Big Red, 5-1, on Friday afternoon at Lynah Rink. Quinnipiac ends its season with a 19-16-2 overall record, while Cornell (29-3-0) advances to the Championship Game for the third-consecutive season.
Quinnipiac sophomore forward Erica Uden Johansson (Sundsvall, Sweden) netted the goal for Quinnipiac, which occurred at the 17:25 mark into the second frame. At the time, the score knotted the game at one-goal apiece, swinging momentum back on the side of the Bobcats. However, the Big Red would score four-straight goals to take control of the contest and pull away for the victory.
The teams' high intensity to start the game fostered two early scoring opportunities for each squad. Sophomore forward Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario) and freshman forward Nicole Kosta (Mississauga, Ontario) skated in on a two-on-one break within the first four minutes of play, but the shot by Babstock was saved by senior goaltender Amanda Mazzotta. The Big Red responded with a scoring chance of its own on sophomore forward Brianne Jenner's short-handed opportunity at 6:30 mark into the opening frame. Jenner stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on a breakaway, but junior goalie Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) made a tremendous save with her leg pad to preserve the scoreless stalemate.
Cornell broke through for the first goal of the contest with just over five minutes remaining in the first stanza on a power-play score by senior forward Rebecca Johnston. The Big Red worked the puck up top, as sophomore defender Alyssa Gagliardi slid the puck over to junior defender Amanda Young. Young then found Johnston at the point where the 2011-12 ECAC Hockey Player of the Year blasted a shot on target, over the shoulder of Vigilanti for her team-leading 26th goal of the season.
While Cornell continued its offensive pressure early in the second frame, Vigilanti repeatedly denied the Big Red of a second goal, making a string of key saves to keep the score 1-0. Vigilanti made eight saves in the second period, en route to a game-high 27 saves in the contest. Her counterpart Mazzotta turned away 16 shots overall for Cornell in the game.
Quinnipiac's strong efforts on the defensive end translated into success in its offensive zone, as sophomore forward Erica Uden Johansson's (Sundsvall, Sweden) ninth goal of the season at the 17:25 mark into the second frame evened the score at one-apiece. Babstock initiated the opportunity, skating into the zone with both Kosta and Uden Johansson trailing the play. The quick wrister by Babstock was blocked by a Big Red defender, but Kosta poked the loose puck over to Uden Johansson whose backhander beat Mazzotta.
The Big Red quickly responded with a score less than a minute later, as Johnston netted her second goal of the game off an assist from sophomore forward Brianne Jenner. With a great deal of congestion in front of the net, more than one official lost sight of the puck, thereby necessitating video replay to confirm the score. Cornell added its third goal of the game on its next shot, increasing the lead to 3-1 with just 35 seconds remaining in the second stanza. Two rapid passes from Johnston to freshman forward Jillian Saulnier opened up the far-side of the ice for Jenner, who received Saulnier's pass and buried her opportunity.
Saulnier, Jenner and Johnston teamed up for the second-consecutive time, as Saulnier netted her first goal of the game at the 3:21 mark into the final stanza. Johnston laid the puck off to Jenner behind the Bobcats' goal, who then found Saulnier streaking into the slot for the one-timed put-away, making the score, 4-1. Cornell extended its lead to 5-1 on a goal from Gagliardi just over four minutes later, as Saulnier registered her second assist of the game and Johnston earned her third helper.
Each squad was whistled for three penalties in the game, as Cornell went 1-for-3 on its opportunities and Quinnipiac was held scoreless on its chances.
Cornell looks to defend its ECAC Hockey title when it faces either No. 2 Harvard or No. 5 St. Lawrence depending the outcome of Friday's 7 p.m. Semifinals matchup.
Contact: Ross Bennett, email@example.com