HAMDEN, Conn. — Kelly Babstock recorded the 100th assist of her career with her only assist in the game as the No. 8 Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated the Rensselaer Engineers, 3-1, Saturday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
“If you go over the games she’s scored in over the last four years, there’s very few games we’ve won where she hasn’t scored and it’s pretty remarkable what our record is, and if you continue to carry a team like that it’s awesome,” Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley said.
Emma Woods tallied the goal for the Bobcats after Rensselaer (6-10-1, 3-5-0 ECAC) goaltender Kelly O’Brien saved Babstock’s shot with her left pad but kicked the rebound out to the slot, where Woods wristed the puck in the back of the net to give Quinnipiac (14-2-5, 5-2-4 ECAC) a 1-0 lead.
“I just thought we were soft coming out on that first shift in the second period; we talk about coming out strong, we didn’t,” Rensselaer coach Dan Burke said.
Both teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period, but Quinnipiac came out energized to start the second period.
“I thought [Babstock's] line came out with a ton of energy and great movement and created a few good opportunities that culminated in Woods’ goal,” Seeley said. “They were all in great position, working hard and I thought that set the tone for the rest of the game for us.”
Burke said his team made some adjustments from the first period to the second period, but they just didn’t translate to shots in that period.
“We made some adjustments between the first and second period which I thought we did a pretty good job with,” Burke said. “Our forecheck was able to pin them in. I know it didn’t relay into shots, but we did a good job maintaining some puck possession down there.”
The Bobcats didn’t score again until there was 5:18 left in the second period when Morgan Fritz-Ward fired a shot on net but Nicole Brown stuck her stick in shooting lane to chip the puck over O’Brien’s shoulder and give Quinnipiac a 2-0 lead.
Shiann Darkangelo scored her 14th goal of the season just 3:01 into the third period when she redirected a Brown shot from the right boards past O’Brien’s glove side to lead 3-0.
The Engineers scored their lone goal with 7:24 remaining in the third period when Taylor Mahoney swiped the puck into the back of the net after it bounced over Quinnipiac goaltender Chelsea Laden and came to a rest in the crease.
“I just put our best kids on the ice, pretty simple,” Burke said. “They had energy and they got one there.”
Seeley called a timeout for Quinnipiac just seconds before the goal to get fresh legs on the ice after a long shift and an icing forced them to keep the same unit on the ice.
“I guess they used their timeout better than we did,” Seeley said. “When you have someone like [Babstock] who scores a lot for you, sometimes she takes risks and I thought she left the zone early, Woods didn’t get it out and then [defense] steps up and we’re short-handed. I don’t think we did a good job responding to that situation and left a couple people open.”
Rensselaer attempted to mount a comeback late in the third period when Burke pulled O’Brien for the six-on-five, but Jordan Smelker was whistled for holding with 1:44 remaining in the game, forcing the Engineers to go on the penalty kill and leave O’Brien in net.
“It’s huge, we were deep in our zone, we did a great job pressuring them and getting the puck back and it was pretty clear she dragged her down, it was a penalty he had to call,” Seeley said. “That’s huge, that’s the rest of the game, even if they pull their goalie we’d be even strength at worst so yeah, it was a critical play.”