POTSDAM, N.Y. – An inspired effort from the Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team wasn't enough on Saturday from Cheel Arena as No. 6 Clarkson's Carly Mercer scored with 5.1 seconds remaining to leave with a 1-0 victory over the Bobcats. Senior goalie Victoria Vigilanti (Woodbridge, Ontario) took the tough luck loss on Saturday despite 30 saves including several stellar stops to keep her team in the game. Quinnipiac now stands 17-10-4 (11-6-3 ECAC Hockey) on the year with their place in the ECAC Hockey standings still to be determined with the impending results over the afternoon. The Golden Knights improve to 24-8 (16-4 ECAC Hockey) with the clutch victory.
The Bobcats fall in their first trip back to Cheel Arena since defeating the Golden Knights in last year's ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals. Vigilanti continues her hot streak despite the loss as the senior now has gone six straight appearances without allowing more than one goal. She also holds an astonishing .970 save percentage and 0.86 goals-against average in that stretch. Five-time ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week, Clarkson's Erica Howe, played very well in net with 27 saves for her sixth shutout of the season.
The late Clarkson goal came after both squads were locked in a defensive struggle for the first 59 minutes plus. The goal came after the Bobcats attempted to clear after winning a faceoff in their own defensive end. The Golden Knights' Erin Ambrose picked the puck off at the center ice and passed up to Jaime Lee Rattray. Her initial shot was blocked in front but the puck was still loose and banged home by Mercer top shelf over the sprawled Vigilanti.
Despite the 10-3 shots-on-goal advantage in the first period for the Bobcats, both teams traded blows and the play was very much back-and-forth. Vigilanti and the Bobcat defense was harassed on the forecheck by Clarkson's Rattray but the Golden Knight's leading scorer was kept in check, having not registered a shot through the first 20 minutes. Junior Shelby Wignall (Hamilton, Ontario) and freshman Cydney Roesler (Stittsville, Ontario) made several key defensive plays to keep the Golden Knight offense in check as Clarkson registered their lowest shot total in a period since Oct, 20, 2012.
Another scoreless battle ensured in the second as each goalie flashed the leather multiple times to hold the score. Vigilanti denied opportunities from several angles on her way to 17 saves in the second while Howe made perhaps the save of the day on junior Kelly Babstock (Mississauga, Ontario). With the Bobcats on the penalty kill, freshman Nicole Connery (Newmarket, Ontario) blocked a shot from the point and carried the puck up ice. With Babstock on her left, she crossed over and the shot on net was turned aside by Howe who bolted to her right just in time to deny the shorthanded goal.
Quinnipiac had several strong scoring chances before the Mercer goal including one from senior Brittany Lyons (Canton, Mass.). After a rush up ice had the Clarkson defense scrambling, the puck was loose down in front of Howe. Lyons was in the right place at the right time as the puck found her at the far post. Her shot however banged off the pipe as the opportunity dinged away for the Bobcats.
Looking ahead for the Bobcats, the team will be looking for two more victories to close out the 2012-13 regular season next weekend as they hit the road for matchups against Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.
Contact: Maxx McNall; email@example.com