No. 4 Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey falls to No. 1 Wisconsin in competitive 5-2 contest

Michael LaRocca, Associate Opinion Editor

After more than a month away from the ice, Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey (15-2-2, 7-1 ECAC Hockey) faced a formidable foe in its return on New Year’s Day. The Bobcats faced the No. 1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (18-1-2, 13-1-2 WCHA), kickstarting a two-game series between the squads. The two teams battled in their hotly anticipated matchup, with the Badgers winning 5-2.

The first period was a defensive showcase for both sides. Swift end-to-end transitions and rare stoppages in play allowed each team to put its elite goaltenders on display. The pair combined for 17 saves in the period, with Quinnipiac graduate student goaltender Corinne Schroeder stopping the Badgers on 10 separate occasions and Wisconsin fifth-year goaltender Kennedy Blair contributing seven saves to her team’s cause.

The Bobcats grabbed the lead to start the second period after sophomore forward Nina Steigauf tipped in a shot from junior defender Kate Reilly, giving Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead just 55 seconds into the period.

As if they were offended by Quinnipiac’s lead, the Badgers stormed back, scoring two goals in the next 6:19 to go up on the Bobcats 2-1. Wisconsin’s second goal, scored by senior defender Nicole LaMantia, was the most thrilling. After multiple save attempts by Schroeder, the puck finally found the back of the net. In the moment, the call on the ice was ruled a save by Schroeder, but after a review that spanned several minutes, it was overturned.

For the remainder of the period, Quinnipiac came across as a doe in headlights, skating with much less confidence than in the first period and the first four minutes of the second. This lack of conviction created slight sloppiness from the Bobcats, resulting in back-to-back penalties from sophomore forward Olivia Mobley late in the period. However, the Quinnipiac penalty kill came around in time to ensure no damage would be done.

The Bobcats’ confident stride came back to begin the third period as things started to go in the right direction. Five minutes in, Quinnipiac graduate student forward Taylor House found her way to the back of the net for the 10th time this season, tying the game at two. About a minute and a half later, a holding call on Wisconsin sophomore forward Makenna Webster put the Bobcats on their first power play of the game. However, that was the moment when everything went south.

Wisconsin found a crack in the Quinnipiac power-play offense and forced Schroeder to unsuccessfully defend a shorthanded breakaway, giving the lead right back to the Badgers. In the final 20 minutes, Schroeder began to impose her will on the game, doing everything she could to keep her team within striking distance, and finished with 33 saves. She would be successful until there was 2:35 left. The Badgers proceeded to score two goals within a minute, one traditionally from fifth-year forward Delaney Drake and an empty netter from sophomore forward Maddi Wheeler, putting the game out of reach for the Bobcats.

With the win, the Badgers improve to 28-0-1 all-time against non-conference opponents on their home ice of LaBahn Arena, dating back to its opening in October 2012. The Bobcats will look to tarnish that record tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 2, when the two teams face off once again at 3 p.m. EST.