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Women’s ice hockey poised for national tourney
Almost halfway through the regular season, the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team looks like a legitimate contender for a National Championship.
So much, in fact, that the Bobcats are poised to appear in their first National Tournament in program history, and possibly even the team’s first Frozen Four.
Quinnipiac has posted a 13-0-2 record in its first 15 games of the 2014-15 season, good for the second-best record in the nation behind No. 1 ranked Boston College. In ECAC Hockey, Quinnipiac holds a 6-0-1 record and sits two points ahead of defending national champion Clarkson in the standings.
Quinnipiac’s offense is buzzing so far. The team is averaging 3.20 goals-per-game, which is good for seventh in the nation and second in the conference.
The Bobcats have been winning in style all season long, with a strong offensive core leading the way. Six members have already tallied double-digit points on the season. Leading the team in scoring is freshman Taylar Cianfarano, as her eight goals and seven assists is good enough for fourth-best in scoring amongst freshmen in the nation.
Still, the defense and goaltending is what the Bobcats have been able to rely on all season. Quinnipiac ranks No. 1 in the nation with a 0.60 goals-against average. Senior Chelsea Laden has been on a tear all year, leading the country in just about every goalie category there is. Laden leads the nation in save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts.
The Bobcats are also getting help from players that have returned to the roster. Erica Uden Johannson came back this season surging for the Bobcats. After missing a year to play in the Olympics, the senior has put up 13 points on the season, five goals and eight assists. Nicole Kosta is another Bobcat that has come back after missing last season to make an impact for the team. The redshirt junior has 12 points on the season after missing last year due to injury.
This past weekend, the Bobcats won the annual Nutmeg Cup. They defeated cross-town rival Yale in the semifinal 5-2, where five different Bobcats lit up the lamp. The Bobcats then faced Clarkson in the Nutmeg Cup Championship Game and won by the score of 3-1, as Laden stopped 24 shots to secure the cup.
Most of the wins for Quinnipiac thus far have been fairly dominant. They went into Cornell and downed the Big Red 3-0 while outshooting them 30-14. They shutout a talented Maine squad on back-to-back nights while putting up six goals. In one weekend, they even outscored Rensselaer and Union by a combined score of 11-1.
The first of two ties came against College Hockey America foe Penn State early in the season, when backup goalie Sydney Rossman was in the net for the Bobcats. The second tie came last week against a red hot St. Lawrence team that has taken down Harvard and Dartmouth this past month, teams who are ranked No. 11 and No. 12 in the PairWise rankings, respectively.
These Bobcats aren’t like last year’s team, which relied heavily on the playmaking of Kelly Babstock. This team is different, and it will make them more of a contender. This team’s depth is what helps them succeed. Through the first three lines, there is a scoring threat. The defense never lets up, no matter who is on the ice, and it doesn’t hurt to have the best statistical goalie in net on a day to day basis.
Quinnipiac currently sits at No. 4 in the USCHO.com Poll, and No. 3 in the PairWise rankings. They haven’t quite yet proved to be in the caliber of Boston College, Wisconsin, or Minnesota but they sure are getting close to that. On neutral ice, this Bobcat squad can compete with any team in the nation.
The Bobcats still have a very tough schedule ahead of them. They still have to travel to Clarkson and St. Lawrence for two very important ECAC matchups, and also have to play Harvard twice.
Then, of course, they travel to Chestnut Hill to face No. 1 Boston College in January.
This Quinnipiac squad has a difficult road ahead, but so far there is nothing but success coming out of this year’s campaign.