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College Hockey:
Wheeler scores twice in third to lead Quinnipiac over St. Lawrence

Vigilanti stops 21 in win

— On Saturday afternoon, the St. Lawrence Saints made their way to the TD Bank Sports Center to take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Both teams were looking to bounce back from losses on Friday night. Quinnipiac had the better of the play in the third period, pulling away for a 4-2 win. QU’s Kate Wheeler scored two third period goals while Victoria Vigilanti made 21 saves for the Bobcats and Caitlyn Lahonen had 23 saves for the Saints.

For Quinnipiac, they had to put the embarrassing loss behind them from the previous night. After holding a 2-0 lead midway through the third period, Clarkson scored three unanswered the beat the Bobcats at home.

“We learned from last night,” said QU alternate captain Wheeler. “To be able to come into tonight’s game and be able to forget about last night was key.”

A blank first period brought no goals, but a pair of tremendous split saves from both Lahonen and Vigilanti.

Lahonen was first to show off her acrobatic moves against the effort from Amanda Colin. Kelly Babstock took control of the puck on the right post and sent a backhander out front. Colin took the one-timer and tried to beat Lahonen low. Lahonen used her long leg span to cover from post to post to deny Colin.

Vigilanti made a beauty of her own with under a minute to go in the period. A Saints’ shot from the high slot quickly found its way through traffic when Vigilanti stopped it with a flash of her left leg pad to keep the score knotted at 0-0.

“Quinnipiac did a great job blocking shots to the net and when we got to the net, ‘Vig’ was great at controlling rebounds and not allowing any extra whacks at the puck.” said Saints’ coach Chris Wells.

Three minutes into the second period, Mel Desrochers got St. Lawrence on the board first. After two icing calls against the Bobcats, the Saints looked to strike against a gassed Bobcats defense. Following a QU clear to center ice, Desrochers quickly recovered the puck and went right back in on the attack. Desrochers sent a backhander through the pads of Vigilanti to pick up her third goal of the season.

Just about three minutes later, the Bobcats went on a power play after Babstock was tripped up by Vanessa Emond. Thanks to the advantage Quinnipiac, tied the game up at 6:11 of the period. After gaining control of the puck, the Bobcats set up at the points. After captain Jordan Elkins connected with Melissa Perry, Perry slung a wrister on a screened Lahonen. Great traffic allowed for Perry’s second goal of the season.

Perry, a key member of the Bobcats defense since arriving as a walk-on three years ago, attends Quinnipiac on an academic scholarship.

After a Perry interference call put the Saints on an advantage of their own, it was déjà vu for the Bobcats. After a missed pass at the point for St. Lawrence, Babstock rushed to the loose puck. After a short-handed goal on the same play last night, Babstock had a chance to repeat her feat. This time, Babstock had to maneuver around two defenders as she went wing-to-wing and wristed the puck in the top right corner to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. It was Babstock’s 22nd goal of the season, which puts her in a tie for seventh nationally.

“We made a critical mistake on the power play; instead possibly being up 2-1, we were down 2-1,” Saints coach Chris Wells said. “It was a two-on-one that turned into a two-on-none for the human highlight reel.”

QU coach Rick Seeley was also impressed with the freshman’s performance compared to last night.

“Her whole game was better and it wasn’t just her scoring. She made a commitment to playing a much more complete game. To be short-handed and come out of it with the 2-1 lead was instrumental in the victory.”

Quinnipiac took the 3-1 lead about nine minutes into the third period. Brittany Lyons took the initial shot from the point. After the puck was deflected, Wheeler was right on the door step to put home the rebound.

Just 1:34 later, it was Wheeler again putting home the rebound. After Wheeler and Kelly Davies broke in on a two-on-one, Davies took the pass from Wheeler on the right wing. After the shot was stopped, Wheeler circled around the net and slipped the rebound between the right post and Lahonen pads for her 12th goal of the season.

“The first half of the season, I was with Babstock and she set me up for a lot of great opportunities; now I am just taking more shots on the net and having more confidence.” said Wheeler.

With 7:27 left in the third, Quinnipiac’s Erica Uden Johansson went to the box after being called for a hold. Wells wasted no time pulling the goaltender for the two-player advantage. The Saints were unsuccessful on the six-on-four, but closed the lead to two goals with 1:10 remaining after a centering pass from Karell Emard was tapped in by Kirsten Roach.

Despite the loss, Wells is confident about the challenges facing his team for the rest of the season.

“It is still early enough that we control our destiny. Right now we don’t have to depend on anyone to win or lose. We just need to keep winning.”

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