HAMDEN, Conn. — In Boston, ECAC’s Harvard took on Hockey East’s Northeastern in the first round of the Women’s Beanpot, while in Hamden, Conn., ECAC’s Quinnipiac hosted the University of New Hampshire. The two teams skated to a 1-1 tie in a defensive battle on Tuesday night. The game was a reschedule from January 18, after that game was postponed due to an ice storm. Both UNH’s Kayley Herman and QU’s Victoria Vigilanti made 24 saves.
“It wasn’t the greatest game, but I thought we battled pretty well and we controlled,” said QU coach Rick Seeley.
A slow start to the game yielded no goals in the first period and few offensive chances. The Wildcats had the upper hand in chances in the first, with the best coming with just 11 seconds left. After Kristina Lavoie took control of the puck through the neutral zone, she had just one defender to beat. Quinnipiac’s Felicia Vieweg skated backward into the zone on defense and got her body in front of Lavoie. Vieweg was able to play the body to the far corner until the first period buzzer sounded.
In addition to not scoring a goal, QU’s offense took another blow; Erica-Uden Johansson suffered an injury as she skated in on an odd-man rush. Uden-Johansson did not return in the game.
At 8:06 of the second period, Quinnipiac was able to hop on the board first. Rookie standout Kelly Babstock started the play when she broke into the UNH zone on the left wing. As Babstock moved up on the left, Amanda Colin streaked through the slot. Babstock sent a centering pass right onto Colin’s stick, who tipped it past the leg pad of Herman.
“Whoever is working with ‘Babs’ is going to be able to pick up some goals; she can set anyone up with her eyes closed,” said Vigilanti.
Quinnipiac entered the third period with the 1-0 lead and looked for solid goaltending to lead them to the win. Just about halfway through the period, they got just that. A one-touch pass put UNH’s Sarah Cuthbert in the low slot to tip one past Vigilanti on the left side. Instead, it was Vigilanti making an acrobatic split save to deny Cuthbert on the left post.
It wasn’t much longer until the veteran defense for the Wildcats stepped up. Senior captain Courtney Birchard was all over the ice all night long, and she finally was able to capitalize with 12:45 left in the third. In similar fashion to QU’s goal, UNH set up just on the goal mouth. From the right wing, Arielle O’Neill fed a centering pass just to Vigilanti’s right. Birchard tipped the puck past Vigilanti in the top left corner. It was Birchard’s seventh goal of the season.
“We need to work on defending the back door,” said Vigilanti. “It was a great shot and a good look.”
The score remained tied following a number of big stops by both teams’ defense. Birchard was back at it again with just minutes remaining in regulation. After Babstock picked up the puck through the neutral zone, she broke in on a two-on-one with fellow freshman Lindsay Burman. Babstock, on the right wing, waited, but waited too long as Birchard laid out through the slot to block any pass to Burman. Babstock finally ran out of room and had to force a late shot.
Both teams will return to conference play this weekend as they both make their final push for league playoffs.
“We still have to keep getting better,” said Seeley. “Today is the third game in the last week that we lost a lead in the third period. We have to get better offensive flow.”