HAMDEN, Conn. — On Friday night the Quinnipiac Bobcats began their push for home ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs after they beat the RPI Engineers 5-1 in Hamden. Kelly Babstock scored two goals and pocketed two assists in the win. Victoria Vigilanti made 13 saves, while RPI’s Sonja van der Bliek stopped 27.
“It was as close to a complete 60 minute game that we have seen this season,” said QU head coach Rick Seeley. “In a game like this you really end up becoming a fan.”
Quinnipiac started the scoring early in the first period just 4:32 in on its first power play of the game. Following a hit from behind penalty to RPI’s Madison Marzario, the Bobcats went on the advantage. After missing the last two games due to injury, QU captain Jordan Elkins was back in the lineup. As Elkins took the feed from Kate Wheeler she immediately looked to shoot. From the top of the left circle, Elkins was able to slip a slap shot just under the leg pads of van der Bliek.
The Bobcats extended their lead just six minutes later on Amanda Colin’s seventh of the year. After an original shot from the outside was saved, both Engineers and Bobcats crashed the net to try and collect the rebound. The puck eventually squeaked to the top of the crease where Colin calmly lifted her backhand above the sprawled out van der Bliek.
Quinnipiac was not done in the first when RPI’s Katie Daniels went to the box on a body check. Just 26 seconds into the advantage, Kelly Babstock pocketed her 26th goal of the season. After a Bethany Dymarczyk shot from the point was saved, Babstock rushed to van der Bliek’s left to grab the rebound. Babstock’s original shot was saved, but the rebound came right back on her stick. Van der Bliek, out of position from her first save, gave Babstock plenty of room to shoot.
Babstock scored her second of the game to put the Bobcats up 4-0 7:15 into the second period. Following a feed from Wheeler, Babstock took control in the far corner and went hard to the net. After making van der Bliek commit, Babstock simply slipped the puck just inside the right post for her 27th goal of the season.
“I just make sure that I am staying right with her and waiting for her to get the battles and that I am battling for her. Really, she is pushing me on the ice more than I am pushing her,” said Wheeler.
Less than a minute into the third period the Engineers were gearing for a comeback following a Quinnipiac penalty to Brittany Lyons. Instead, as Lyons’ time expired in the box, she was welcomed by a streaking Babstock fresh off a turnover in the QU zone. Babstock gained the line on the right with Lyons on the left and with just one RPI defender between them. Babstock wristed the pass to Lyons who lifted it top shelf past van der Bliek.
RPI finally got on the board 8:16 into the third on a beautiful tip from Jordan Smelker. The play took wings after Alisa Harrison took control of the puck on the near side half boards. Harrison sent a centering pass through traffic to the streaking Smelker who tipped it into the top right corner past the diving Vigilanti. It was Smelker’s tenth goal of the season.
“That line for us came to play at the drop of the puck. Alisa made a great play to her and Jordan made a good move to the net.” said RPI coach John Burke.
RPI is currently in seventh place in the conference, two points back of Clarkson. Tomorrow, the Engineers will travel to Princeton to take on the Tigers at 4:00. Quinnipiac is sitting in fourth place, two points back of Dartmouth. The Bobcats will drop the puck in their final home game of the season tomorrow at 4:00 against Union.