College Hockey:
Grenier scores two as Mercyhurst holds off late Quinnipiac rally

— The Mercyhurst Lakers (3-0-1) were able to hold off a late game comeback by the Quinnipiac Bobcats (0-1-1) and hold on to a 4-3 victory less than 24 hours after the two teams played to a 4-4 overtime draw.

The Lakers took a 4-1 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the game when Christine Bestland connected for her fourth goal of the season. Kelsey Welch passed to Vaila Higson, who took the initial shot on the play before Bestland came away with the rebound. As she skated to her right, Quinnipiac goaltender Chelsea Laden was sprawled on the ice attempting to get back up. As she scooted right, Bestland ripped a shot under her leg and in the back of the net.

Exactly one minute later, Kelly Babstock cut the Mercyhurst lead in half when she scored off the rebound of Nicole Kosta’s shot.  Babstock shot the rebound under the glove of Mercyhurst netminder Stephanie Ciampa for her third goal of the season.

Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley talked after the game about the importance of the Babstock, Kosta and Erica Uden-Johansson.

“Well, it’s vital, because they are the only ones really producing for us right now. Right now, Babs’ line has picked up right where it left off.”

Regan Boulton added her first goal of the season two minutes later when the Bobcats had a five-on-three power-play. Babstock passed the puck across the face of the goal to Kosta, who crossed the puck to Boulton at the right faceoff circle. The slap shot beat Ciampa in net, cutting Mercyhurst’s lead to 4-3.

Quinnipiac couldn’t finish the comeback, as Mercyhurst was able to hold off the Bobcats in the final minute of the game.

“Our team’s learning how to compete,” Mercyhurst coach Michael Sisti said. “They’re learning the little things you got to do to win. That’s something that’s been the cornerstone of our program.”

Mercyhurst outshot Quinnipiac 39-23 in the contest. The Bobcats were one-for-five on the power play, while the Lakers were zero-for-one.

Quinnipiac had the first power play of the game when Emily Janiga was called for hooking with 12:49 remaining in the period. It proved uneventful for Quinnipiac, as the Mercyhurst penalty kill thwarted the goal-scoring opportunities.

With 9:11 remaining in the first period, the Lakers drew first blood and took the 1-0 lead on Kristine Grenier’s first goal of the game. Grenier and Jenna Dingeldein went in two-on-one on Felica Vieweg, who bit on Dingeldein’s puck handling. She shifted a pass to Grenier, deking Laden with a fantastic forehand-backhand combination for the goal.

Quinnipiac came out of the first intermission blazing, scoring in the first 16 seconds of the second period. Babstock skated down center ice and dished the puck to Nicole Kosta on her right. Kosta wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle, off the post and the bottom of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net to tie up the game 1-1.

The goal was under review before the call was upheld for a goal. Cydney Roelser was also given an assist on the play, her first as a Bobcat. With the goal, Kosta now has a point in nine consecutive games, breaking the previous record of eight held by Babstock.

Mercyhurst bounced right back and controlled the pace of the game for the remainder of the period. Mercyhurst outshot Quinnipiac 21-4 in the second period, giving Laden the brunt of the work.

“I thought we played much better today,” Sisti said. “We dominated most of the play and the team found a way to gut check and get it done.”

Stephanie DeSutter regained the lead for the Lakers with 6:53 left to play in the middle frame, making it 2-1. Shelby Bram and Lauren Jones assisted the goal. As DeSutter skated away from the goal on the right side, she backhanded a shot under the glove of Laden and into the back of the net for her first goal of the season.

Just under two minutes later, Mercyhurst added to its lead with Grenier’s second goal of the game.  Her shot came from the faceoff circle, where it bounced off Laden’s glove and straight in the air. Vieweg attempted to swat the puck away, but it bounced off her glove and into the net, giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead.

“Chelsea’s proven herself at this level,” Seeley said. “While I don’t think ‘Vigi’ got a lot of support yesterday on the goals, the same way Chelsea didn’t today, you know there was no reason not to play her.”

The third period provided all of the excitement in the game following Mercyhurst’s dominant second period. Quinnipiac’s two goals in the final three minutes of the game just weren’t enough to tie up the game for the second consecutive night.

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