Before the game, Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey coach Rick Seeley said that his team would have to play the perfect game to beat Cornell in the ECAC semifinal game on Thursday night. They nearly did, but it wasn’t enough.
A pair of goals from Cornell’s Hayley Hughes – including the eventual game-winner – led the No. 2 ranked team in the country to a 4-3 victory over the Bobcats.
“Other than the goals, we stuck to the game plan pretty well,” Seeley said. “I thought we played well enough to win.”
Late in the first period, Cornell earned a 5-on-3 advantage after penalties to both Kelly Babstock and Kelley Davies. Quinnipiac was able to kill off the initial penalty to Babstock, but after a multitude of chances, the Big Red’s high-octane power play struck with 1:47 to play. Chelsea Karpenko settled the puck in the right-wing circle and wristed it past Victoria Vigilanti’s glove for the opening goal.
Jessica Campbell added a goal for the Big Red five minutes into the second, and the Bobcats found themselves down by two goals. But as they would do on multiple occasions on the game, Quinnipiac fought back.
“Overall I thought our kids played great,” Seeley said. “They played with great heart and they battled even when we were down by a couple.”
First it was Erica Uden Johansson at the 7:28 mark of the second period. The Swedish national team member skated into the zone on the left wing, was stopped on her initial two shots by goalie Amanda Mazzotta, but banged home the third effort to cut the Cornell lead to one.
Late in the second, Cornell answered. Hughes scored from the high slot, spinning to the ice as she shot, and put it past Vigilanti’s five hole to extend the Big Red lead to two once more.
Next, it was Brittany Lyons’ turn to keep Quinnipiac in the game. 1:50 into the third period, Jordan Elkins’ shot from the point was stopped and the rebound bounced straight up. Lyons was waiting at the far post, batted it out of mid-air and past Mazzotta to make it 3-2.
Hughes scored again to increase the Cornell lead to two for a third time, and it looked as if the Bobcats might not have a third response in them. But Hamden’s own Bethany Dymarczyk did not want to go back to her hometown without a fight. She fired a shot from the point that went through a Babstock screen and underneath Mazzotta’s pads to once again cut Cornell’s lead in half.
As the final minute of regulation approached, Seeley had no choice but to pull Vigilanti in favor of an extra skater. As it typically does in 6-on-5 hockey, chaos ensued. With less than 10 seconds left on the clock, a blocked shot led to a mad scramble for the puck in the slot. It came to the stick of Davies, who settled and fired one that just caught the right toe of Mazzotta.
And like that, the historic season for Quinnipiac’s women’s ice hockey team was over.
“I thought we did a great job of winning the initial battles once we had [Vigilanti] pulled,” Seeley said. “We had three chances at the end.”
The bright side for the Bobcats is that, in graduating just Davies and Kelsey Britton, Quinnipiac returns plenty of firepower on both the offensive and defensive ends. When last season ended in a five-overtime loss to RPI, it pushed the team to greater heights this year, reaching its first ECAC semifinal in program history.