It may be just what Quinnipiac needed. Coming into the contest, the Bobcats had never beaten the Big Red at home and was winless since 2006. That all changed Friday afternoon.
Quinnipiac (16-9-3, 10-5-2 ECAC) routed No. 4 Cornell, 4-1, at the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center. The win gives the Bobcats their second-ever win over a Top-5 nationally ranked opponent, in addition to moving their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).
The Bobcats last beat a top five team on Nov. 22, 2011, when Quinnipiac took down then No. 4 ranked Boston College, 2-1. This victory is just the fourth win over Cornell in program history (4-11-5 overall series record), and put an end to the nation’s second-longest unbeaten streak at eight games.
It was a hard earned win for the Bobcats, especially because Cornell has had Quinnipiac’s number of late, bouncing the Bobcats out of the ECAC playoffs last season in the semi-finals.
“I instantly starting crying and I’ve never been so happy before in my life,” senior goaltender Victoria Vigilanti said. “As a senior, this win means so much, just seeing your team jump in front of those pucks in the last minute and doing anything they can for you just means so much. If we keep playing like that, people better watch out.”
Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley realized earlier in the week that sensed something clicked earlier in the week in practice.
“Earlier in the week, the girls said they can win out and tonight I thought we played really well from start to finish,” Seeley said.
The Bobcats dominated for most of the first period and outshot the Big Red, 15-6. They got on the scoreboard first with 4:26 left in the opening period. Regan Boulton fired a one-timer from the left point that deflected off of Kelly Babstock’s stick and in between Cornell goaltender Lauren Slebodnick’s legs. Slebodnick couldn’t locate the puck as it stopped on the goal line, where Erica Uden Johansson poked the puck home for her second in as many games, and ninth of the season.
Quinnipiac took a 2-0 lead 6:20 into the second period on Brittany Lyon’s 15th goal of the season. Amanda Colin hustled from the opposite blue line to the far side boards and caused a Cornell turnover behind the net. Colin circled behind the net and sent a diving pass into the slot for Lyons who one-timed the puck past Slebodnick for the two-goal lead.
Vigilanti was stellar in net with 32 saves while the Bobcats defense blocked 20 shots in the game.
“She was unbelievable,” Seeley said. “She nullified a lot of dangerous plays just by standing up and making it look easy. She made some huge saves early when it was a one-goal game. It’s what we came to expect, and if she is getting in that form now it is perfect timing.”
“There were plays today where I was down and out and players like Nicole Kosta, Amanda Colin, and Shelby Wignall were diving in front of pucks,” Vigilanti said. “That just shows how much everyone is here for each other.”
With the Bobcats skating down two players on a Cornell empty net and power play, Babstock lit the lamp again for a shorthanded empty-net goal. Boulton dove in front of Vigilanti for another blocked shot and the loose puck found Babstock’s stick who lifted a shot over the Big Red’s back line and in for the goal.
“It’s what we want to be all about, and you don’t necessarily play that way all the time, but they saved their best for the right time,” said Seeley.
Cornell ( 19-5, 14-3 ECAC) added a goal late as ECAC Hockey leading scorer Brianne Jenner scored her 27th of the season. Jenner’s goal ends Vigilanti’s streak of 219:16 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.
Babstock took advantage with her second empty-net goal of the game with five seconds left, good for her 26th of the season.
“This was not only a big win for Quinnipiac’s history, but it was a big win for our confidence this year,” Vigilanti added. “To go into the playoffs and know that we can beat teams like Clarkson, Harvard, and Cornell and it was perfect timing to get this win.”