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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey wins seventh straight, 2-1, over Minnesota Duluth

Quinnipiac+womens+hockey+sophomore+forward+Emerson+Jarvis+protects+the+puck+from+a+defender+in+a+game+against+Minnesota+Duluth+on+Jan.+5.+
Cat Murphy
Quinnipiac women’s hockey sophomore forward Emerson Jarvis protects the puck from a defender in a game against Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 5.

HAMDEN — Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey kicked off 2024 with a 2-1 win over Minnesota Duluth Friday night, a come-from-behind victory in a highly defensive match defined by intense physicality.

Up to this point in the season, the 19-3 Bobcats — who hadn’t won a game by less than two goals since Nov. 3 — have relied primarily on their potent offense to overpower their rivals.

But Quinnipiac’s defensive prowess took center stage against Minnesota Duluth, with head coach Cass Turner calling the Bobcats’ performance “the toughest that we’ve played defensively all year.”

Case in point, the Bobcats blocked as many shots as they put on net, blocking 15 of Minnesota Duluth’s attempted shots but recording a season-low 15 shots on goal.

Shot-wise, the Bulldogs found more success than Quinnipiac, pelting Bobcats graduate student goaltender Logan Angers with 37 shots — the third-most she has faced this season.

But Minnesota Duluth senior forward Clara Van Wieren, who opened up scoring midway through the first period to give the 11-7-1 Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead, was the only Bulldog whose shot found the back of the net.

Bobcats senior defender Kendall Cooper erased the lead toward the end of the period, sniping the top right corner behind sophomore goaltender Hailey MacLeod to tie the score at one.

And then nothing — for over a period.

But a little over six minutes into the final frame, senior forward Nina Steigauf sailed a net-front set-up pass from graduate student forward Julia Nearis past MacLeod, putting the Bobcats ahead for the first time all game.

“It was just me and the goalie,” Steigauf said. “And I tend to like it when it’s just me and the goalie.”

But where Steigauf came up big on offense, she also came up big on defense. 

With the Bulldogs netminder on the bench, Quinnipiac’s defense faced mounting pressure from Minnesota Duluth’s offense in the waning seconds of the third period.

Outnumbered and — by her own admission — out of position, Steigauf dove to the ice to block a Bulldog shot she could tell was coming.

“I was like ‘Crap, this is my player,’” Steigauf said. “‘I’m gonna lay down and see how that goes.’”

Angers admitted she was “a little bit concerned at first,” noting that Steigauf seemed to come “out of nowhere.”

But the play, Angers said, ended up being a “huge difference-maker for us.”

Against any other team, this game would likely be written off as “just another win.” But this game wasn’t “just another win” for the Bobcats — it was a potential rehearsal for the national stage.

The Bulldogs are unlike each of the 17 other teams Quinnipiac has faced this season in that the Bobcats don’t know them. 

Separated by a conference and a five-hour flight, the No. 6 Bulldogs and No. 8 Bobcats had only played each other three times prior to Friday’s matchup — and all three of those meetings occurred in 2019.

With the start of the playoffs less than eight weeks away, Turner said it was important for the Bobcats to get a feel for non-conference play at the national level. 

And Minnesota Duluth — a WCHA team that has made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons — provided the Bobcats a perfect trial run.

“I think it gives us opportunities to put ourselves in better positions nationally when it comes to the end of the year,” Turner said.

In particular, the potential playoff preview exposed Quinnipiac to the striking differences between ECAC Hockey and WCHA Hockey — with the most evident shift between Friday’s game and the 21 games that preceded it being the physicality.

The Bulldogs were all over the Bobcats. With every other play seeming to border on roughing, checking, elbowing or interference, Minnesota Duluth played with a level of physicality rarely seen in the ECAC.

“I think that physicality in the WCHA is probably a bit higher,” Turner said. “They let a little bit more go.”

And yet, the officials called only three penalties all game — something that almost certainly wouldn’t have occurred in a typical ECAC Hockey game.

“I thought that was probably a little more similarly refereed to how it would be in the WCHA, which was nice for our team to get that experience because that’s probably how it’s gonna feel when you’re in the playoffs,” Turner said.

The Bobcats aren’t headed to the playoffs just yet. But they will close out non-conference play Saturday with another tournament-style matchup against Minnesota Duluth. Puck drops at 3 p.m.

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