By Jamie Palatini
(HAMDEN, Conn.) The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team came into Friday night’s game winless in their last seven games.
Tonight, the Bobcats looked like a completely different team.
The Bobcats fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 to earn a 4-4 tie against the Cornell Big Red Friday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden. Quinnipiac’s record now stands at 3-21-5 overall, and 2-10-5 in ECAC Hockey. The Big Red’s record moves to 11-10-3 (7-7-3 ECAC). The Bobcats received a standing ovation from the crowd following a game which Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley thought was one of his team’s best performances this season.
“I was really impressed with how hard we worked today,” Seeley said. “I thought it was a great step for our program, and we didn’t get down at all, we just kept battling.”
The Bobcats came into tonight’s game following a poor performance in a 3-0 loss to Brown last Friday, and a 2-1 loss to Yale in which they gave up the final goal with just 3.3 seconds remaining in the game.
4:24 into the first period tonight, Cornell jumped out to the early lead. Freshman forward Chelsea Karpenko made a pass from her own zone to sophomore forward Rebecca Johnston. Johnston made a move past Bobcats’ freshman defenseman Melissa Perry by the left faceoff circle, then cut in and slid the puck through the legs of Quinnipiac goaltender Nanna Holm-Glaas. It was Johnston’s team leading 18th goal of the season, and it gave the Big Red a 1-0 lead.
Just three and a half minutes later, the Big Red doubled their lead. Senior forward Brianne Gilbert entered the Bobcats’ zone along the near boards and made a centering feed near the point to Sam Wauer. The sophomore defenseman fired a wrist shot over the glove of Holm-Glaas for her second goal of the season, and Cornell was up 2-0.
There have been some games this season where Quinnipiac has fallen behind early and seemingly packed it in. Tonight the Bobcats showed resiliency, and it started with two of their team captains. Senior defenseman and team captain Trudy Reyns made a pass from the Quinnipiac zone to assistant captain Kallie Flor. The junior forward skated through the neutral zone and had a two-on-one as she came across the Cornell blue line. Flor decided to keep the puck herself, and fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Cornell goaltender Jenny Niesluchowski. It was Flor’s fourth goal of the season, and Quinnipiac was in business, down just a goal with seven minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The score remained that way until the last minute of the second period, where Quinnipiac drew even. Sophomore forward Kelley Davies put a shot on net from the slot which was initially saved by Niesluchowski. But junior forward Janine Duffy found the loose puck in front amidst the Cornell defense, and put the rebound past Niesluchowski. The momentum had swung fully in the Bobcats’ direction, and heading into the third period Quinnipiac and Cornell were knotted at two.
1:45 into the third period, Quinnipiac completed the comeback. Reyns kept a clearing attempt in the Cornell zone by the blue line. She took a wrist shot which appeared to be saved by Niesluchowski. But the puck fell behind her, and senior forward Antoinette Maldonado was there for the Bobcats. She put the rebound into the open net for her first goal of the season, and Quinnipiac had their first lead of the game at 3-2.
But the Big Red responded. After a Danielle Alexieff penalty, the Big Red took advantage of the power play opportunity. Liz Zorn’s shot from the point went just wide and off the end boards, but came right back out in front of the net. Freshman Catherine White took the loose puck and put it past a sliding Holm-Glaas to tie the game at three with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
And as quickly as Cornell had tied it, they took the lead. White crossed the Bobcats’ blue line and made a centering feed to Johnston. Johnston faked to her left then went back to her forehand, fooling Holm-Glaas. It was Johnston’s second goal of the game, Cornell’s second goal in less than a minute, and the Big Red had taken a 4-3 lead.
The fans were stunned, but the Bobcats had an answer. Junior forward Evelina Husar’s initial shot was stopped, but Duffy found the rebound and knocked it past freshman goalie Amanda Mazzotta, who had come in for Niesluchowski. It was the second time the Bobcats had come back in the game, and the score was even at four with seven minutes remaining.
“I think the whole program is growing up, and obviously as Janine goes, we go,” Seeley said. “I think she’s learning and understanding that she’s a leader of this program”
Duffy’s response to a leadership role is simple, but it speaks to the mentality that Seeley has brought to this program in his first season has coach.
“I think a lot of it is leading by action,” Duffy said. “It starts in practice and the weight room, and hopefully it carries over to the ice.”
The score would remain that way until overtime. Quinnipiac’s best scoring chance came two minutes into the extra frame. Duffy took a pass in the slot and was past the Cornell defense, but Mazzotta slid across the crease to make a game-saving stop on her backhand attempt. Holm-Glaas made a couple big saves in the waning seconds, and Quinnipiac came away with a 4-4 tie.
The Bobcats will look to build off of Friday night’s effort tomorrow afternoon when they host Colgate at 4 p.m. for Senior Day. Dan Coleman and Andrew Gau will provide the call, which will begin immediately following men’s basketball against Bryant.
Notes: This was third game this season in which the Bobcats scored four goals; they are 2-0-1 in those games. … Duffy’s two goals tied her career high for goals in a game which she set against St. Cloud State on Oct. 4, and also tied her for the team lead in goals this season with Elyse Cole (nine). … Tonight’s game marks the second time this season Quinnipiac and Cornell played to a tie; their first game was a 2-2 tie on Nov. 8 at Lynah Rink in Ithaca.
Click here to view the box score from this game.