If the Bobcats had seized any momentum with their 2-1 double overtime win last night, it was gone by the time the puck was dropped for Game 2.
Alisa Harrison’s power-play goal midway through the second period proved to be the game-winner, as the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers defeated Quinnipiac, 1-0, to tie the ECAC Quarterfinal best-of-three series at one game apiece. Sonja van der Bliek earned her seventh shutout of the season in the win for the Engineers.
Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley saw his team bring a sub-par effort for most of regulation for the second straight night.
“Our play left a bit to be desired,” Seeley said. “We only had two shots in the first period, took two real dumb penalties in the second period to give them their goal, and they just kind of sat back and we didn’t have the fight to overcome it.”
The Bobcats only mustered 16 shots on goal in the game, and only three shots on goal in the first and third periods combined. In the third period, Seeley tried switching up the line combinations to jumpstart the offense, but van der Bliek and RPI’s defense kept Quinnipiac’s offensive attack silent.
“I thought Chelsea Illchuk had a pretty solid game, but other than that we’re just trying to find any combination that might work,” Seeley said. “We knew these games were going to be tight and close, and we just didn’t have an answer today.”
The Engineers have only scored two goals in the first two games of the series, and both of them have come on the power play. Quinnipiac forward Janine Duffy took a penalty in the offensive zone, and RPI capitalized. Taylor Horton’s initial shot from the point was saved by Victoria Vigilanti, but Harrison found the loose rebound and lifted it over Vigilanti to put the Engineers up for good.
Although Quinnipiac trailed 1-0 heading into the third, you wouldn’t have known it by watching the play on the ice. The majority of the play was in the Bobcats’ zone, and Quinnipiac had no solid offensive chances to tie the game in the final 20 minutes.
“I think when we don’t have the battle and the fight to get to the net, we’re not going to create much,” Seeley said. “We haven’t scored a lot of highlight-reel goals all year; it’s just about the battle and winning loose pucks. We just haven’t had that fight the first two days, and I hope we can find it by tomorrow.”
Both teams played nearly 30 minutes of extra hockey last night before Illchuk won the game for Quinnipiac. Less than 24 hours separated the end of last night’s game with the start of today’s game, but the Bobcats looked to have their stamina.
“I don’t think there’s any problem with our physical conditioning, and I don’t think many teams have worked harder than us this season,” Seeley said. “I would say it was a lack of mental focus, and that’s hard to turn on when you haven’t brought it all game.”
This was the first loss for the Bobcats at home in league play this season, and their first loss at home since Oct. 24 when they lost to Niagara. The Bobcats are now faced with a winner-take-all, Game 3 tomorrow afternoon against RPI at 2 p.m.