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Women’s ice hockey preps for Hockey East foes
The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team is on a red-hot streak in the month of January–one that has propelled the Bobcats to No. 3 in the PairWise rankings and No. 3 in the latest USCHO.com rankings. Only Boston College and Minnesota are ranked ahead of the squad.
With a sweep of Robert Morris this weekend on the road, the Bobcats have now won seven straight games since their loss to Harvard on Dec. 6. With the two wins over the Colonials this weekend, including an overtime victory on Friday night, Quinnipiac has improved to 20-1-3 on the 2014-15 season, which is the third-best record in the nation behind only Boston College and Wisconsin.
Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley is happy with the consistent success of the team heading toward postseason play. With a month left in the regular season, continuing the hot streak for the Bobcats is something that Seeley finds very important.
“Anytime our team plays consistently well it builds confidence and momentum,” Seeley said. “Those are two key elements we want heading in a positive direction, as we approach the playoffs.”
In the seven wins during the month of January, Quinnipiac has outscored its opponents 21-4 and has played in only two one-goal games, one of them being the recent overtime win at Robert Morris. Seeley is happy with the performance of the team’s offense and team defense this year.
“[We’re] consistent,” Seeley said. “We don’t really separate the two, we play team defense and team offense. We rely on everyone on the ice playing together as a unit. Everything we do starts with a commitment to hard work, focus and execution. I couldn’t be happier with how this team has picked up in the second half where we left off in the first.”
The Bobcats are on top of the nation in team defense with letting up less than a goal per game, and are tenth in the country in scoring offense, averaging more than three goals per game. Quinnipiac currently has 10 players on the roster with double digit points on the campaign.
The seniors have continued to play strong this year, and have been a big reason for the Bobcats’ success. Goaltender Chelsea Laden tallied four shutouts last month, adding to her nation-leading 12 for the season. Laden continues to lead the nation with wins, being the first team with 20 wins this season, and also tops the list in goals against average. She also is fourth in save percentage.
In addition to Laden’s continued success in net, senior Erica Uden Johansson put up five points for the month of January, including a two-goal weekend against Brown and Yale. Johansson’s fellow co-captain Morgan Fritz-Ward chipped in with tallied six points in January, including five assists. Alternate captain Shiann Darkangelo recorded eight points this month with five goals and three assists.
“Our seniors have been exactly what a team needs to play consistently at an elevated level,” Seeley said. “All four are exceptional, selfless leaders. Their first concern is the team and what it takes for us to succeed. This kind of season is impossible without it starting with our leaders and their commitment to our team goals.”
Along with the production the Bobcats have gotten from their senior class, newcomer Taylar Cianfarano has been one of their most constant sources of scoring. The freshman forward has led the team in points all season. Cianfarano currently sits fourth in the nation in scoring with 24 points by way of 14 goals and 10 assists. This month, the forward has nine points, including six goals. Cianfarano had her first career hat trick in the 4-1 win over Yale on Jan. 10.
“I can’t say enough about what TT has meant to our program’s success this season,” Seeley said. “She not only is leading us in scoring as a freshman, but she also leads us in game-winning goals, with 6. It is clear she wants to be on the ice in important moments, and she produces when we need it most. Those are traits most freshmen don’t possess. It bodes very well for our future.”
The Bobcats remain on top of ECAC Hockey, as they sit four points ahead of No. 7 Clarkson, last year’s national champion, and five points over No. 5 Harvard with only six remaining conference games.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac has two big non-conference games left against ranked opponents. The Bobcats travel to No. 7 Boston University Wednesday at 7 p.m., then travel to No. 1 Boston College on Saturday.