Women’s ice hockey ties No. 9 Mercyhurst in OT

Ariana Stover

In the home and season opener for the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team, the non-conference Mercyhurst Lakers rolled into town presenting the Bobcats with their first challenge of the year. The Lakers were holding a 2-0-0 record and ranked No. 9 in the country coming into the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center on Friday evening.

The game was quick from the get go, both teams getting scoring chances early in the first
period. Senior defenseman Felica Vieweg opened up the scoring for the Bobcats just over 10 minutesinto the first period with a power play goal, assisted by Anna Borgfeldt. With a wrist shot, Vieweg scored five-hole and got her first of the season after Mercyhurst’s Kaleigh Chippy was sent to the box for body checking.

Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley spoke of the power play’s improvement after the game, “We’ve just been working hard at it, not just particularly for this weekend but overall. They’ve been moving the puck well.”

The Lakers didn’t let that discourage them as the game was knotted up at 1 apiece when Kelsey Welch scored her second goal of the season 15 minutes into the first period. Welch scored a tough goal on a rebound as the Mercyhurst players crowded the crease to put one past Bobcat goaltender Victoria Vigilanti.

Quinnipiac was quickly shorthanded in the second after a tripping penalty on senior forward
Kristen Eklund just over 3 minutes into the period. Mercyhurst capitalized on the Eklund penalty when freshman forward Emily Janiga scored to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead.

The Bobcats weren’t going out without a fight. Senior winger Brittany Lyons took a nice center
feed from junior forward Kelly Babstock and put up her first of the season with a one timer at 7:28 of the second period. That assist would be Babstock’s 100th career point. Quinnipiac didn’t take their foot off the gas and neither did Babstock who scored a breakaway goal to put the Bobcats up 3-2 just under 2 minutes after the Lyons goal.

“Babs [Babstock] was great around the net on rebounds,” Seeley said, praising the junior’s
strong performance. “She picked it out of the air. It was such a critical play and it was pretty awesome,”

Mercyhurst kept the pressure on until the final seconds of the period and it paid off as senior
Gina Buquet scored a nifty backhand goal with just around 37 seconds left in the second period to tie the game at 3.

That tie was broken at 4:28 of the third as Janiga scored her second of the game to put
Mercyhurst up 4-3. Later in the period, a crucial block by junior forward Erica Uden Johansson saved the Bobcats from falling to a two goal deficit.

The compete level rose and the pace quickened even further as the game progressed. In the
final minutes of the period, the Lakets Molly Byrne took a body checking penalty and with just a minute to go, the Bobcats pulled Vigilanti. With only 39 seconds left, Babstock tied up the game by scoring a clutch goal and her second of the game with two extra skaters on the ice.

Tensions were high heading into the five-minute overtime period as both teams were fighting
for the win. Vigilanti kept the Bobcats alive with a fantastic save on a shot by Byrne with only 2 minutes left in overtime. Lyons had a great scoring opportunity with seconds left in the game but run the crossbar instead of hitting the mesh. Neither team could capitalize on the scoring opportunities in the overtime period, and the game ended in a 4-4 tie.

“I thought our overall performance was great in terms of intensity and effort,” Seeley said of his
team’s play against the Lakers. “Obviously we had a few defensive breakdowns and that’s the priority to improve tomorrow.”

Despite not getting a win, Quinnipiac can take a lot of positives out of this game. Babstock had a stellar game and was the top star of the night, scoring 2 goals and an assist for 3 points. Vigilanti also had 18 saves on the night.