Women’s hockey steadily improving

Doug Manners

The women’s ice hockey team’s record does not look impressive at first glance. However, since becoming a varsity program in 2001-2002, the Bobcats have improved their record each season and this year is no different.

Last season, Quinnipiac posted just five wins in 32 games, 5-25-2, which was an improvement over their inaugural season record of 3-27-2. This year, the Bobcats are off to a 6-16-2 start with ten games still on the schedule.

Of the team’s six wins, four have been shutouts. Junior goaltender Catherine Lapare of Valley Field, Quebec, is leading the Bobcats in the shutout department with three in 16 games played. Freshman netminder Janelle Wolitski of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, picked up her first collegiate shutout with a six-save effort versus Southern Maine on Nov. 21.

Versatile freshman Vicky Graham of Glen Riddle, Penn., who plays both forward and defense, is leading the Bobcats in scoring with 21 points, nine goals and 12 assists, in 24 games played. Junior Gillian Gallagher of Monteville, NJ, last season’s leading point-getter on the team, is first in goals, with 10 and in power play goals with four this year.

Since kicking off the new year with 4-1 win at the University of Vermont on Jan. 2, the Bobcats have hit a bump in the road, going eight games in a row without a win, 0-7-1. During that stretch, they have been outscored 35-10.

The Bobcats played their third-to-last home game of the season on Jan. 20 against Yale University. The all-time series between the two teams was tied at 2-2 entering the contest with each club posting one win in the other’s building.

Yale jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 4:32 into the first, which was an ominous sign for the Bobcats, who are 0-13-1 when the opposition scores the first goal of the game. The Bulldogs scored two more goals, one in the second period and one in the third, before Quinnipiac erased the goose-egg beneath its name.

Junior blueliner Jayne Riley of Kentwood, Miich., took a pass from senior Debbie Beaudoin of Surry, British Columbia, and beat Yale goaltender Sarah Love with a slap shot from just inside the blue line at 5:35 of the third period.

Yale added a couple of late goals to win the game 5-1. Lapare made 20 saves on 23 shots for Quinnipiac, while Wolitski stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief.

Following the Yale game, the Bobcats headed for the shores of Lake Erie to face the Mercyhurst Lakers, who are ranked No. 7 in the country. The Lakers used two first-period goals scored in a span of 46 seconds to take the lead and never looked back as they routed the Bobcats, 7-0.

Wolitski made four saves on six shots in goal for Quinnipiac before being replaced by Lapare, who stopped 31 of 35 shots. Overall, the Bobcats were outshot by Mercyhurst, 42-16.

The Bobcats squared off with the Lakers the following afternoon before preparing to battle Cornell this Saturday afternoon in Ithaca, NY.