The Quinnipiac Bobcats edged St. Lawrence 2-1 in the ECAC semifinal with a goal from Randi Marcon at 14:50 of the third period to advance the Bobcats to the ECAC Championship on Sunday.
“I came on on a change, and the defense, Lindsey West took the perfect shot but it was just off the ice,” said Marcon. “Rocky (Raquel Pennoyer) was in front for a good screen, and (Meghan) Turner was on the back door. Got the rebound, shot it, and it ended up that I was the high screen and I just put it in the net.”
The win for Quinnipiac marks the first time since 2012 that the host team has made it to the conference title game. It’s the first time in program history that the Bobcats have made it to the ECAC Championship.
“St. Lawrence came out ready,” Quinnipiac coach Cassie Turner said. “They had energy from the beginning of the game to the end of the game and they were confident, they blocked a lot of shots, their goaltender played really well. We’re really proud of the effort top to bottom with our team today and happy that it’s going to be exactly what we want going into tomorrow.”
It was the third consecutive year these two teams met in the playoffs, but the first time in the semifinal after the Saints upset the No. 3 Princeton Tigers in the quarterfinals.
“I thought it took a little bit to get our legs going; that series last weekend took a little bit out of us, more than we had anticipated,” St. Lawrence coach Chris Wells said. “Our legs weren’t quite where they normally are for the first period, so to get out of that period 0-0 we were pretty happy.”
Hannah Miller scored a power-play goal 25 seconds into the second period to break a 160-minute goal drought against the Bobcats that had spanned the regular season. The bench erupted in cheers and hugs to receive Miller after tying the game.
“For the game, it pretty much played out like we had hoped it to; we hadn’t scored on them all year, we finally got one in,” Wells said. “But we had a lot of good chances and really in the second period we had some quality chances and just some good play.”
The defensive-oriented programs matched up well throughout the game, with the Saints forcing pucks and passes to the outside from hard-pressuring defense. The St. Lawrence penalty kill also held Quinnipiac’s fourth-best national power play scoreless on two opportunities.
“Especially against Quinnipiac we’ve made sure we keep a third person high because they do such a good job of getting the puck out with their high forward slashing through the middle; I felt like we did a good job keeping them to the outside for the most part,” Wells said. “We had a couple of line changes that let them have a few nice line rushes. … I thought Harrison made some fantastic saves at really key times for us tonight. But I thought everybody just did a great job blocking shots.”
Even as the lowest remaining seed in the conference playoffs, Quinnipiac junior Emma Greco knew the challenge St. Lawrence would possess going into the postseason, even after the Bobcats shut out the Saints twice in the regular season.
“We always know they’re going to come out hard; as my years in Quinnipiac, they usually get better throughout the year,” Greco said. “So there’s definitely a different look between the first game and the second game, so I knew it was going to be just as hard, even more hard than the last time.”
For Saints captain Amanda Boulier, she saw first hand the consistency and drive her team had going into the end of February, as St. Lawrence went 2-2-2 to end the season.
“I think we clicked at different times. I’ve been here for five seasons and we’ve found what works at different times. I think the last month here we’ve found what works, we finally got the lines finalized and the lines finalized and that helped a ton moving forward.”
For Wells, it’s a sense of disappointment for his team’s season to be ending at this point after having the team’s play picked up.
“Desperation creates a lot of good things,” Wells said. “It puts the priorities in order. I think for us to be fighting the last week to get in the season just to get into the playoffs, which shows you how good the league is, that really set us up for how we played the last three weeks. It’s a shame the team has to stop playing. As a coach, you want your team to be playing its best hockey at the end of the year and we were certainly doing that.”