Monday, March 1, 2010

Women's Hockey - ECAC Quarterfinals (Game 3)

With the best-of-three series tied at one game each, RPI and Quinnipiac settled the score in grand fashion, playing the second longest game in NCAA hockey history en route to a 2-1 Engineer victory at 4:32 of the fifth overtime period Sunday in Hamden. All told there were over 2 and 1/3 games worth of hockey played, spanning more than 5 hours, and a whopping 16 periods of play (9 would be expected) over three consecutive days to determine a winner in a series as evenly matched as any in recent ECAC history.

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Game 3

Wright/Harrison/Horton
Padmore/Dunlop/Weidner
Naslund/Vandegrift/O'Keefe
none/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Castignetti/Gersten
Le Donne/Vadner
Gaylord/Daniels

van der Bliek

After two knock-down, drag-out battles between RPI and Quinnipiac to come to a tie in the playoff series, the players taking the ice Sunday showed some serious signs of fatigue from the opening whistle. But nobody expected what was to come, which would make the previous two games look like child's play in comparison.

RPI got on the board early, a departure from the pattern established in the first two games, when Alisa Harrison took a pass from Allison Wright at 12:31 of the first period and put it on net, collecting her own rebound and putting it past Victoria Vigilanti to give the Engineers a 1-0 lead. The goal came just 22 seconds after RPI killed their first of six penalties in the game as Amanda Castignetti was given a hooking minor despite not actually hooking the Quinnipiac player who was in on a breakaway stopped by van der Bliek.

The second period came and went without any goals or penalties in either direction, and a 10-4 shot advantage for Quinnipiac after an even 7-7 match in first period shots. A trend noticed in the first two games (and even in recent weekends prior to this one) was magnified as the officials appeared to have completely swallowed their whistles for the game, allowing checking, some holding, hooking, and dropping of players near the crease without so much as batting an eye. In game three, however, Quinnipiac was the beneficiary of the officials blinders as a penalty on RPI was finally called past the mid point of the third on a play no different than any other that had been allowed to occur all day. Andie Le Donne slid across the ice well in front of a rushing Quinnipiac forward, knocking the puck to the boards and out of danger. When the Q skater did a big tumble over the sprawling Engineer defenseman, the arm went up and Le Donne went to the box for a play that goes unpenalized most any other time it happen.

Less than a minute later, with under 6 minutes left in regulation, the Bobcats tied the game as Bethany Dymarczyk fired a slap shot past a screened van der Bliek from the point. At this point it was apparent that the next goal would be the game winner, though just how long it would take to get that goal was a surprise to all.

In the first overtime RPI and Quinnipiac traded one penalty each (with Quinnipiac's being the Bobcats' only penalty in a game that was by no means clean) and RPI outshot Quinnipiac 10-7. The Engineers would go on to outshoot Quinnipiac in each of the five ensuing overtime periods, many of which were golden scoring opportunities that the RPI skaters just couldn't put home.

As if going to five overtimes wasn't heart-pounding enough, the Engineers took a penalty in each of the second, third, and fourth overtimes, each within the last four minutes of the frame when the players were the most exhausted. A typical pattern marked the overtime periods, with RPI coming out dominant and holding play in the Quinnipiac end for much of the first third of the period before the Bobcats fought back, eventually gaining the momentum into the late period before drawing a penalty against an exhausted Engineer group. RPI's penalty kill, aside from allowing the tying goal, was spectacular, limiting the Quinnipiac chances and keeping the puck to the outside for much of each shorthanded situation.

Early into the fifth overtime (now past 7:00pm in a game that started at 2:00) Laura Gersten skated down the near side boards, into the Quinnipiac zone, and roofed a laser-guided shot into the space between the upper right junction of post and crossbar, and Vigilanti. The puck rang off the junction and straight down into the net, sending the Engineer players and fans into a frenzied celebration. The goal would be reviewed to verify it had in fact crossed the line, and a minute and a half later the officials confirmed the game-winning goal.

Laura Gersten and the rest of the seniors led the team in a big way this weekend and especially today. Gersten in particular carried the team on her shoulders throughout the overtime periods, leading charge after charge down ice when many other players were able only to dump the puck in and go off on a change due to fatigue. Having tallied the game winner in last season's ECAC semifinal game against Harvard, Gersten showed again against Quinnipiac why she is one of a select few defensemen in the discussion for the Patty Kazmaier award, which goes annually to college hockey's top female player. A complete player who is as talented offensively as she is defensively, it took a perfect shot to beat Vigilanti and end the game and Gersten was there with it at the right time.

The Engineers now travel to top-seeded Cornell on Friday for a single-elimination semifinal game against the Big Red. Should they win, the championship game will be played on Sunday at the highest remaining seed (Clarkson or Harvard). It is a new championship format that threatens to have the semifinals and championships played at as many as three different venues in the same weekend, and time will tell how it works. Should Cornell win on Friday, they would host the winner of the Clarkson/Harvard semifinal on Sunday for the league crown.

Information regarding game times and broadcast availability (audio and video) will follow as they are announced.

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#4 RPI at #5 Quinnipiac
ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals Game 3 – TD Bank Sports Center (Hamden, CT)
2/28/10 - 2:00pm
RPI 2, Quinnipiac 1 (5OT) - RPI wins best of 3 series

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wquiren1.f28
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20100228&vis=rpi&home=qu&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2010/2/28/WICE_0228105955.aspx
QU: http://www.quinnipiacbobcats.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=17500&ATCLID=204898235

RECORD: 16-14-6 (2-1 playoffs, 2-1 quarterfinals)

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Quarterfinal Results:

#1 Cornell vs. #8 Colgate - 2-0 Cornell (2-1, 5-0) - Cornell advances
#2 Clarkson vs. #7 SLU - 2-1 Clarkson (5-0 Clarkson, 2-1 SLU, 4-1 Clarkson) - Clarkson advances
#3 Harvard vs. #6 Princeton - 2-0 Harvard (5-1, 4-1) - Harvard advances
#4 Quinnipiac vs. #5 RPI - 1-1 (2-1 QU 2OT, 1-0 RPI, 2-1 RPI 5OT) - RPI advances

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Upcoming Games

Mar. 5 - at Cornell (ECAC Semifinal)
Mar. 7 - at Harvard or Clarkson (ECAC Championship - if RPI defeats Cornell)

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