Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey sweeps Vermont

Small makes a big difference as the Bobcats fend off the Catamounts

By on October 15, 2017

The weekend sweep came down to a faceoff for Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey on Saturday night.

Megan Lowe
The Bobcats led Vermont 2-1. Twelve seconds remained in the game. Quinnipiac junior Anna Kilponen was just sent to the box for cross-checking. Vermont’s net was empty. Four Bobcat penalty killers were up against a six-player Catamount power play.

Freshman goaltender Allison Small just stopped a point-blank shot from Vermont’s Saana Valkama to retain the Bobcats’ lead. The Valkama shot came just five seconds after a mad scramble in front of the Bobcats’ net during which Small and the Bobcats narrowly managed to prevent a game-tying goal.

Junior assistant captain Randi Marcon squared up for the faceoff for Quinnipiac against Vermont’s Éve-Audry Picard. With 12 seconds on the clock and a faceoff to her left inside the Bobcat’s zone, it was possible that Small could be tested again.

Referee Jon Field checked behind him to make sure no one was encroaching upon the faceoff circle, trying to gain an advantage. He looked back at the faceoff dot and dropped the puck. Both centers got a piece of it, and tied each other up.

The puck skittered a few feet towards the middle of the slot. Vermont’s Alyssa Gorecki stepped into the circle from the left wing. Quinnipiac sophomore Kati Tabin was there to tie her up, but not before Gorecki pushed the puck to the middle of the slot while falling to the ice.

Within two seconds of the official’s puck drop, the puck was in a dangerous position for the Bobcats. Then, in less than one second, senior Racquel Pennoyer gathered the puck and fired it down the length of the ice to clear the Bobcats’ zone.

It took those three seconds to decide the game.

Nine seconds later, the Bobcats officially improved to 4-2 overall on the season. They outshot Vermont 28-25, while their defense blocked 11 shots. Allison Small stopped 24, any one of which would have made the difference.

Small made a big difference for the Bobcats, making some difficult saves in the third period including a paddle save on Picard as she came in on a breakaway with little back-checking pressure. Picard sold a backhand to forehand deke and Small bought it, sliding over to her glove side. It appeared as though she was out of the play when she dove back across the crease, extending the paddle to deny Picard with 8:15 to play.

“You saw that true competitive mentality in her in the third period today,” Quinnipiac head coach Cass Turner said. “She was ready to save our team when we needed her, which was key.”

Small’s win was a bounce-back performance following a rough start two weeks ago in which she was pulled from her first NCAA game early in the second period, allowing two goals on eight shots in a 4-2 loss to Maine.

After Saturday’s win, Small said it felt good to perform so well following her last appearance.

“I was just not thinking about the last time,” Small said. “I just played the game and got ready for the next shot every time.”

Small did not allow a goal in the third period despite facing 13 shots.

Megan Lowe
“It just takes a little bit of mental toughness,” Small said of how she kept calm during the final period. “The team is also so supportive. In between shots, they come over and just help me keep calm in the net, which helps pick up your spirit and helps you stay ready for the next shot.”

Another freshman standout for the Bobcats was Brooke Bonsteel, who scored in back-to-back games this weekend.

She opened the scoring just over two minutes into the second period on a hard cut to the middle, while fighting off a defenseman, capped off by a quick stickhandle and release to beat Catamounts goaltender Melissa Black under the arm.

“I think I bring size to the game so I think using that to my advantage is something that’s really going to help me this season,” Bonsteel said. “I’ve been working on that quite a bit. Just driving the puck to the net and getting as many shots as I can is just what seems to be working right now.”

The 5-foot-10-inch freshman center also added an assist on junior forward Kenzie Lancaster’s power play goal, which proved to be the game-winner, 5:42 into the second.

Bonsteel ended the weekend with three goals and an assist in three games and the Bobcats ended the weekend with a series sweep as they prepare to take on No. 3 Boston College (2-0) on Tuesday.

“This was an incredibly important weekend for us. We needed to grow this weekend, we needed to get a little bit more grit and I think we did that,” Turner said. “[Vermont] today definitely pushed back and they played a good game. That was a really good experience for us to have a game like that and be in a position where we had to compete and battle right to the end of the game.”

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About Sam DaCosta

Staff Writer
Journalism Major
Twitter: @Sam_DaCosta_9
Class of 2019