RPI women’s hockey opened league play this past weekend with two of its tougher opponents on the schedule—Quinnipiac University and Princeton University. The Engineers put up a valiant fight in both contests, but could only muster one point over the two-day span. The Quinnipiac Bobcats came out on top in a 2-0 shutout on Friday afternoon, while the next day saw Rensselaer and the Princeton Tigers skate to a 1-1 draw. RPI is now 2-5-3 overall with a 0-1-1 ECAC mark, while Quinnipiac improves to 3-5-0 overall and 2-0-0 in league play. Princeton maintains a 2-1-1 overall record and is 1-0-1 within conference play.
The first match of the weekend saw the visitors strike first as sophomore Kelly Babstock gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead off an individual effort. Babstock grabbed the puck off the boards in the Quinnipiac zone, skated through netural ice, and fired her first shot on freshman goaltender Kelly O’Brien. Although O’Brien stopped Babstock’s initial attempt, the puck came right back to Babstock who was then able to capitalize on the second-chance opportunity at 9:11 of the first period.
Shortly after, senior Laura Guillemette had a solid attempt to get the Engineers on the scoreboard, but was denied by Quinnipiac junior goaltender Victoria Vigilante. After trailing the Bobcats 11-8 in shots the first period, Rensselaer bounced back to hold a 10-5 shot advantage in the second period. The extra effort, however, did not work in the Engineers’ favor despite several attempts to score.
The Bobcats made it a 2-0 lead in the third period as senior Jordan Elkins buried a slat shot from the point at 6:43. Sophomore Amanda Colin earned the only assist on the play. Rensselaer was able to defend against a 5-on-3 advantage to keep Quinnipiac from increasing that deficit, but couldn’t hit the back of the net itself. The Engineers pulled O’Brien in favor of the extra skater for the final three minutes of regulation, but a slap shot by junior Andie Le Donne and other attempts by RPI were all blocked by Vigilante, who finished with 21 saves on the night. O’Brien posted 22 stops at the other end of the rink.
The following afternoon brought the Princeton Tigers to the Houston Field House. After the disappointing loss to the Bobcats, the Engineers came back to earn a 1-1 tie with the Tigers.
Once again, the visiting team struck first as junior Kelly Cooke hit the back of the net 3:42 into the first frame. Senior Paula Romanchuk sent the puck over to junior Corey Stearns, who fired the initial shot at freshman netminder Brianna Piper. The Oakville, Ontario, native was able to block the shot, but the rebound slid out to Cooke on the left side, who scored on the second opportunity.
Senior Alisa Harrison led the charge for the Engineers in the second period, hitting the net for seven of RPI’s collective 11 shots. Although none went in, Harrison had several strong changes, including a rush that ultimately ended up with the goal off its moorings.
The final period of regulation play finally saw Harrison register on the scoreboard. Freshman Eleeza Cox had the first of three shots on net against Princeton senior goaltender Rachel Weber. Cox’s shot was blocked and the puck popped out to senior Jill Vandegrift. Again, Weber stopped the shot, but this time the biscuit slid out to Harrison, who took multiple shots on net before one lit the lamp at 17:52.
Even with an extra five minutes of play for overtime, neither team was able to score and take the win. Piper finished with 24 saves, including a breakaway attempt by Princeton sophomore Olivia Mucha in the final minutes of play. Weber posted an impressive 30 saves in the tie.
Rensselaer remains home this weekend as it continues with league play. The Engineers take on St. Lawrence University on Friday at 7 pm and Clarkson University on Saturday at 4 pm.