POTSDAM, N.Y. — On Saturday afternoon, Clarkson defeated Quinnipiac, 2-1, to force a game three in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Clarkson’s defense came up big all night long, blocking 12 shots through the second and third periods.
After a shaky start the night before, Clarkson’s Erica Howe returned to form, stopping 14 shots.
The Golden Knights are now 16-0-0 when leading after two periods.
The Golden Knights jumped on the board first 11:55 into the first period on a great centering feed from Jamie Lee Rattray. Rattray carried the puck on the left side and looped around to the near corner, then centered the puck for Danielle Skirrow, who scooped the puck past Victoria Vigilanti for the 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats’ offense could not replicate their outstanding first period play from last night, as QU only mustered two shots on goal in the opening period.
Clarkson took the 2-0 lead 3:33 into the second period on another great individual effort from Rattray. Rattray circled behind the net and out to the left point, then wristed the puck and beat Vigilanti just inside the right post.
The Bobcats had a number of opportunities in the second period, but couldn’t put one past Howe.
Howe came up with a huge stop with six minutes left in the middle frame. Kelly Babstock grabbed the puck on the far side and made a move for the slot. Howe dropped to the ice in anticipation for the shot, but Babstock waited and moved into the right circle. With Howe laid out, Babstock lifted the puck toward the open net. Howe reached out and gloved down the attempt to keep the two-goal lead.
“To be honest, I was kind of chalking that one up there when she was down,” said Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers with a chuckle. “She’s made some big stops for us through the season, the kind of stops that keep you into a game or the kind that just keep you going.”
Clarkson thought it took a 3-0 lead 10:16 into the second period. A scramble in front of Vigilanti could not be covered up in the slot. Juana Baribeau tipped the loose puck past Vigilanti and into the back of the net. The goal whistle sounded, but Rattray committed a slashing penalty before the puck crossed the goal line.
Instead of a 3-0 lead, the Bobcats went on the advantage. Quinnipiac moved the puck efficiently on the left side and ripped a shot on net that rang off the post.
“We were just telling our kids to just stay focused and keep to the task at hand,” Desrosiers said. “That whole second period was like a roller coaster with all those penalties called on both sides and all of the four-on-four action.”
Quinnipiac finally got on the board 7:33 into the third period on a power-play goal from Erica Uden Johansson. Nicole Kosta fed Uden Johansson on the far side and sent a wrister on net. The shot sneaked past Howe on the short side to bring the Bobcats within one.
“I thought we played hard in the second and third periods,” Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley said. “We had a lot of close misses in the second period, but those are just the breaks and we’ll just have to try to make them work tomorrow.”
The Bobcats came close to tying the score in the final seven minutes of the third, but Clarkson’s defense held a lot of Quinnipiac’s shots to the outside. QU’s Amanda Colin had the best chance in the final minutes when she fanned on a shot to Howe’s right. Howe just stopped a shot on far side and couldn’t get back to Colin’s side fast enough. Clarkson’s defense collapsed on Colin and forced her to miss the shot.
Game three is set for tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m.