With their season on the line Saturday afternoon, the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team did what they have done all season: rebounded and battled back. In a game that took nearly four hours, the Bobcats rebounded from a 1-0 Game One loss to earn a 3-2 triple overtime victory over St. Lawrence to set up a decisive Game Three tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m.
After giving up two goals in the final 31.5 seconds of regulation, Amanda Colin made the crowd rise to its feet after a dynamic display of skill as she toe dragged past a St. Lawrence defender and backhanded a shot past Carmen MacDonald five hole for the game winner at the 8:55 mark of the third overtime.
The Saints still possessed the puck behind Vigilanti but the centering pass was deflected out wide to Colin near the blue line who poked the puck past the lunging defender to create a one-on-one breakaway. Colin carried the puck on her forehand side and then toe-dragged right past the last Saint defender to the middle of the crease. Colin faked a shot that sent St. Lawrence goaltender out of position before sliding over a backhander for the game winner.
“I looked up and saw a bunch of open ice and skated down and decided to dangle a little bit and take the girl one-on-one,” Colin said. “I got to the goalie and I don’t know where that move came from, but it went in.”
The game could have ended numerous time in overtime but both MacDonald and Victoria Vigilanti were tremendous stopping 57 shots each.
“They finished enough,” Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley said. “We had a lot of great opportunities all game and I thought we took it to them for the most part but MacDonald stood on her head and she made great saves. I thought we worked a lot better around the net.”
Quinnipiac looked in control for most of the game and the game looked to be won until the final seconds. With both sides playing well defensively, the two goal lead seemed secure for the Bobcats. With MacDonald pulled and the extra attacker on, SLU’s Rylee Smith fired a one-timer past Vigilanti to cut the deficit to 2-1.The Saints won the faceoff in the Bobcats’ defensive end and ECAC Hockey leading scorer Kelly Sabatine twirled around several defenders before centering in front of the crease to Rylee Smith’s stick, who one-timed a shot past Vigilanti for the goal.
With 32 seconds left, the Saints won the draw following the goal and entered the Bobcats’ zone. With the puck bouncing around in the Bobcats defensive end, Vigilanti came out of her net to play the puck off the near side boards, where the Saints gained control of the puck. Mel Desrochers threw the puck in front at the net, where Smith tipped the puck up and over the sprawled Vigilanti to tie the score with two seconds left in regulation.
Kristen Eklund scored her first goal of the season midway through the first period to give the Bobcats their first lead of the series. The puck was held along the boards as Nicole Brown dumped the puck to Kristen Eklund near the goal line. Eklund fired the puck on net and it deflected off MacDonald’s shoulder into the back of the net. It was the first tally for the Bobcats in over 80 minutes played against the Saints up to that point this weekend.
“We’ve been told to get pucks to the net anyway we can,” Eklund said. “I was just trying to get the puck above the goal line and hopefully get a rebound for Brown on the back door, but fortunately it just went in.”
With just 4:08 left in the second period, Quinnipiac extended its lead to 2-0. Kristen Tamberg fed Shelby Wignall at the left point, who fired a shot on net that loose in front of MacDonald but Colin was waiting on the doorstep and collected the puck and muscled and poked home the rebound.
St. Lawrence played in the longest game in program history while it was the second-longest in Quinnipiac history behind the five overtime battle against Rensselaer on Feb. 28, 2010. The Bobcats attempted 108 total shots while St. Lawrence totaled 97. Both sides played incredibly clean hockey as only four penalties were called throughout the game.
“Just the same effort, we have been consistent the last month and a half and we just have to keep playing the same way,” Seeley said. “Hopefully St. Lawrence will run out of gas.”