Junior defender Mia Lopata smiles at the bench during warmups before their game versus Providence on October 13, 2023.
Junior defender Mia Lopata smiles at the bench during warmups before their game versus Providence on October 13, 2023.
Tripp Menhall

‘Keep moving forward’: Stories from women’s hockey’s undefeated start

No. 6 Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey is off to another scorching hot start, heading into its  ECAC Hockey slate at 6-0-0. So, let’s catch you up on everything Quinnipiac women’s hockey before it jumps into conference play on Oct. 20. 

100’s All Around 

This past weekend Quinnipiac was in action against Providence, pulling out two wins in the home-and-home series. The weekend was also memorable for two veteran Bobcats in particular —  senior forward Nina Steigauf and graduate forward Sadie Peart. 

Friday’s 4-1 win over the Friars saw Steigauf and Peart both reach a special milestone. Steigauf suited up in her 100th career game with Quinnipiac, and Peart notched her 100th career point as a Bobcat. 

Steigauf didn’t even realize the special occasion until after the game. 

“I didn’t even know that,” Steigauf said. “It’s awesome to be a part of such a special program that supports you … and just have a great group of girls that you can really rely on them with anything. It’s just so fun to succeed together.” 

Steigauf memorialized the milestone day by scoring what became the game-winning goal, going top-shelf in the third period to beat Friars goaltender senior Mireille Kingsley.

Peart on the other hand was fully aware that she was one point away from the illustrious 100-mark. A social media post from Quinnipiac Athletics made everyone know how close the team’s co-captain was to reaching triple digits. 

“It was posted yesterday, and I was like ‘Oh no there’s a lot more pressure,’” Peart said. “I was more trying to focus on the game.” 

The Grand Rapids, Minnesota, native had to sweat out whether or not she’d reach the mark in front of the home fans. She finally knocked home an empty-net goal to close out Friday’s game, and relieved herself of the pressure of joining the 100-point club. 

“You could see just how well respected she is by her teammates by how they reacted and responded,” head coach Cass Turner said. “She’s just a phenomenal offensive player and to see the consistency she’s had through all four years, and then now into her fifth year. It’s awesome to see.” 

Down, But Not Out  

This past weekend saw a troubling trend continue for the Bobcats. In two of its first six games, Quinnipiac has allowed an opponent to tie the game with less than 10 seconds remaining to force overtime. Both times saw the Bobcats emerge with the win, but it definitely isn’t a comforting trend. 

Turner, while unhappy that the team hasn’t been able to finish off those games in 60 minutes, is still impressed with the team’s quick turnarounds. 

“I think we have to have a short memory sometimes, you have to move forward and be ready to make the next play,” Turner said. “Nothing good can happen from staying where you are, you gotta keep moving forward and they did that.” 

The Bobcats have displayed those quick turnarounds in a lightning fast way in overtime periods, with both game-winning goals coming in the opening minutes of extra time. On Oct. 6, Steigauf scored in just two minutes and 19 seconds into overtime to put away New Hampshire. On Oct. 14, graduate student forward Jess Schryver buried the puck just 54 seconds into the extra frame to complete the sweep over Providence. 

“We’ve been down before and I think we have the confidence in ourselves … Anyone can go out there and make a difference,” Steigauf said. “We know that we can win together and we can do whatever we set our mind to.” 

Turner is also aware of some of the bad habits that are allowing their opponents to hang around late in games. 

“We’re just continuing in trying to grow in some of our puck management decisions, our shift lengths and trying to take care of the puck a little bit better,” Turner said. 

While it is concerning that the Bobcats have had trouble closing out a couple of their non-conference games, it’s also a good thing to know that when it comes down to it, this team has shown the resilience to come from behind. 

‘No Weeks Off’  

Quinnipiac better hope that its six non-conference games have got itself ready as it heads into the gauntlet that is the ECAC. Six other ECAC schools are currently ranked in the USCHO Poll: No. 3 Colgate, No. 5 Yale, No. 7 Clarkson, No. 9 Cornell, No. 11 St. Lawrence and No. 14 Princeton. 

Every weekend will be a test for the Bobcats in a sink-or-swim conference.

“I think it makes us better,” Turner said. “There are no weeks off, every weekend anything can happen in any game that we play.” 

The Bobcats won’t have to wait long before they see that unpredictability firsthand as they welcome in unranked Brown and No. 5 Yale this weekend. Brown opened its regular season this past weekend with a split against Holy Cross — both results coming in overtime. Yale won’t officially start its regular season until this Friday against Princeton. 

With not much tape to go off of, the Bobcats will have to rely on the week of practice to start studying these fresh squads. 

“It makes not only the weekends exciting, but practice exciting all week,” Turner said. “It pushes players to play at their best to get prepared.” 

Even though it’s early, Saturday’s matchup will certainly be a test to see where this Quinnipiac team compares to years past. Last season the Bobcats were 0-2 against the Bulldogs, losing by a pair of goals each time. Yale has been the cream of the crop of not just ECAC Hockey, but all of Division I, winning 54 games over the last two seasons. Another reason to fear the Bulldogs, they are returning all of their top-three goal scorers from last season in forwards Anna Bargman, Jordan Ray and Carina DiAntonio. 

A win Saturday would certainly set Quinnipiac off on the right foot against the rest of the upper-echelon of ECAC Hockey teams. 

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