Women’s hockey drops pair

By on October 28, 2009

The Quinnipiac University women’s hockey team came up empty-handed in a pair of non-conference games against the Niagara Purple Eagles over the weekend at the TD Bank Sports Center, losing each by one goal.

The margin of defeat was one of the few similarities between the two contests.

Saturday’s game began with a quick first period, taking 23 minutes to complete the first 20 minutes of hockey. There were no penalties or goals in the first period, as Niagara’s junior goalie, Jenni Bauer, turned away seven Quinnipiac shots, and Victoria Vigilanti, the Bobcats’ freshman netminder, stopped all five of the Purple Eagles’ attempts.

Niagara struck twice in the second period to start the scoring. The first came at the 6:27 mark of the period, when freshman Kathleen Bortuzzo put the Purple Eagles on the board with her first collegiate goal. Bortuzzo received a pass from senior Jacqueline Spring, wrapped around the net and shot it past Vigilanti for a 1-0 Niagara lead.

With less than two minutes to play in the second period, Niagara padded its lead thanks to another freshman. Jenna Hendrikx took a centering pass from former Bobcat Jennifer MacLean, and found the back of the net for a 2-0 Niagara lead.

MacLean, who holds the Bobcats’ single-season record for assists with 17 during the 2006-07 campaign before transferring to Niagara, was credited with the assist.

Quinnipiac was able to cut the Niagara lead in half at the 4:50 mark of the third period. Like both Purple Eagles goals, the Bobcats’ goal also was scored by a freshman. Felica Vieweg ripped a shot from the right point off a pass across the blue line from fellow freshman Breann Julius.

The Bobcats controlled the tempo for much of the third period, but the game’s only penalty, a bodychecking call with just over four minutes to play, slowed down the offensive attack due to the PK. The Purple Eagles held on for the 2-1 victory.

Friday’s contest started with an even faster-moving first period, one that took under 21 minutes to play, thanks to no penalties or goals once again. The Bobcats were unable to muster a shot on Bauer prior to the first intermission. Vigilanti turned aside nine Purple Eagles shots in the first period.

The second period proved to be far more eventful than the first. After killing off three penalties, two for tripping and one for hooking, Janine Duffy put the Bobcats on the board at the 9:05 mark of the second for a 1-0 lead. Freshman Regan Boulton rifled a shot from the blue line, and Duffy was in position to redirect it for the power play goal.

Niagara wasted no time in answering back, as only 28 seconds later, the Purple Eagles knotted the game at 1. Vigilanti made a pad save on a shot from Frances McPhail, but Hendrikx was there for the rebound, and snuck it past the Bobcat goalie to tie the game.

The tie lasted only seconds longer than the Bobcats’ momentary lead. Forty-one seconds after the Niagara goal Quinnipiac was back on top after a quality offensive performance by the forward line of Kelley Davies, Stacey Kmill, and Evelina Husar. Kmill passed it behind the net to Husar, who sent a centering pass to Davies on the left side of the net. Davies ripped a shot past Bauer to give QU a 2-1 lead.

Quinnipiac held the lead until the 18:56 mark of the third period, when Niagara capitalized on a power play opportunity with a goal from MacLean to tie the game at two. MacLean took the pass from Frances McPhail, and lit the lamp to force overtime.

After holding down the Purple Eagles’ scoring attack throughout most of the overtime period, Niagara’s Leah Whittaker was able to get a shot by Vigilanti with 11 seconds remaining for a 3-2 Niagara win in the first game of what proved to be a weekend sweep.

Head coach Rick Seeley said this young Quinnipiac team is improving each time they take the ice.

Seeley accredited the two goals Saturday to “bad breakdowns” defensively, but pointed out that inexperience factored in as well.

“When you have four freshman defensemen in the lineup, you’re bound to have those,” Seeley said. “They’re growing. Our freshmen are getting better every game, so we’ll just keep working on it.”

The games on Friday on Saturday were the final non-conference games for the Bobcats before opening up their ECAC Hockey schedule at home this upcoming weekend.

The Bobcats will play their ECAC Hockey opener on Friday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m., when they host Union at the TD Bank Sports Center.

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