HAMDEN, Conn. — Kelly Babstock recorded her second hat trick of the season, scoring all three goals for tenth-ranked Quinnipiac as the Bobcats skated past Princeton 3-1 Tuesday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
Babstock completed her hat trick when she skated end to end, dodging defenders on the way to score an empty-netter to make it 3-1 after Princeton (9-7-2, 6-5-1 ECAC) tried to tie the game with the six-on-five advantage and a faceoff in the Quinnipiac end.
“That was a big-time play with the goalie pulled to win that battle and take it end to end to really cap off the win,” Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley said.
It was the first game out of the winter break for Quinnipiac (15-2-5, 6-2-4 ECAC), but the Bobcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first period.
Babstock scored 4:08 into the game to give Quinnipiac the early lead when Emma Woods passed her the puck from behind the Princeton net and Babstock one-timed the puck past Princeton goaltender Kimberly Newell.
“You can tell when she has that look in her eye, when she gets one early it seems to really pump her up, so she was determined,” Seeley said.
The Bobcats tallied a second goal of the first period with 3:18 to play when Babstock skated from center ice to the top right of the faceoff dot and wristed the puck on net where it squeaked under Newell’s blocker to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.
“I thought it was a pretty good first period for us [because] traditionally, we haven’t come out that strong the first game back,” Seeley said. “I thought we did a lot of good things, but I thought we did a lot of bad things, too, and we gave them too many odd-man rushes.”
The Tigers were outshot 22-14 after the first two periods of play, but turned up the pressure in the third period and outshot the Bobcats 12-8 in the stanza.
“It’s been an all-year thing with us [where] we’ve been a really slow-starting team to every game,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said. “As the game gets going on, we get better and better and our third periods have been our best period.”
Princeton cut the Quinnipiac lead in half to 2-1 just 1:54 into the second period when Brianna Leahy stole the puck in the Quinnipiac end and fed it to Denna Laing, who skated in the slot to score a shorthanded goal high blocker side on QU netminder Chelsea Laden.
“That was a great penalty kill,” Kampersal said. “[Leahy] made a nice angle to strip the puck and Denna made a nice shot, so after that, I thought we had momentum.”
Newell kept the Tigers in the game as it remained 2-1 throughout the third period. She finished the game with 27 saves on the 29 shots that she faced.
“[Newell is] solid, always gives her best effort,” Kampersal said. “Sometimes, we rely on her too much, but she does a good job. She’s getting better every day, working hard.”
Laden finished the game with 25 saves for the Bobcats.
Seeley said the win over Princeton was crucial for Quinnipiac as it gives the Bobcats some breathing room in the ECAC standings.
“It was vitally important,” said Seeley. “I mean, we lose that game and Princeton has the upper hand in terms of the standings, so that gives us a three-point gap over Princeton and provided things remain the same, that should insure we’re at least fourth or fifth.”