Amidst a late flurry in the second period, Northeastern women's hockey stormed back from its first deficit of the season to defeat Quinnipiac, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon at Matthews Arena. The Huskies moved to 4-0-0 on the season and capped off a perfect season-opening four-game homestand.
Junior Rachel Llanes' first marker of the year won it for the Huskies. Senior Florence Schelling stopped 30 Bobcats shots, including 27 in the final two periods, en route to her third win of the season against no losses.
In a repeat of yesterday's first period against Union, Northeastern got off to a massive shots advantage (13-3 in the period) but could not capitalize before the first intermission. It was still 0-0 with five minutes to play in the second when Quinnipiac's Kelsey Britton found leading scorer Kelly Babstock, who fired a low wrist shot from the left hash. Schelling was up to the task, but the rebound caromed right back to Babstock, and she buried her second goal of the season to put Northeastern behind for the first time this season.
The Huskies, who to that point had been generating plenty of shots but few full chances on net, hit back immediately and with force. With 90 seconds to play in the period, junior tri-captain Casey Pickett gained control in the Northeastern zone and passed up ice to junior Brittany Esposito, with freshman Kendall Coyne streaking down the middle. Esposito's two-touch pass was on the money, and Coyne broke through the Quinnipiac defense and rifled a backhand wrist shot through the five-hole of Bobcats goaltender Chelsea Laden.
It was a fitting moment for Coyne, who was celebrating her selection to represent Team USA at the Four Nations Cup this November in Sweden, as announced Friday by USA Hockey. The goal was her second of the campaign - her first was an empty-netter in Northeastern's opener against Syracuse and leveled the game at 1-1.
And Northeastern wasn't done. Thirty-nine seconds later, after tenacious forechecking from freshman Lucie Povova stripped Felica Vieweg of possession behind the net, the Cizkovice, Czech Republic, native threw the puck into the slot, where Llanes was perfectly positioned to slot it along the ice past Laden's right pad and give Northeastern the lead.
It was more relentless forechecking that iced the game for the Huskies in the third period, and this time, the forechecker received the payoff. After senior tri-captain Stephanie Gavronsky dumped the puck in, junior Kelly Wallace forced a turnover from Quinnipiac's Melissa Perry, with the puck bounding down behind the net to sophomore Katie MacSorley. Wallace bolted straight to the front of the net; MacSorley had the puck waiting for her, and she blasted it in to put the game out of sight for Northeastern. It was Wallace's first goal since February 27, 2010, in the Hockey East tournament quarterfinals against Connecticut - she had missed the entire 2010-11 season due to injury.
The Bobcats, who managed just three first-period shots amidst an early offensive slumber, controlled much of the late run of play but were kept off the board thanks to Schelling, who made 14 saves in the third period, including a stop on #Amanda Colin on a two-on-one break just seconds Wallace's goal. Schelling has allowed just three goals in her three games. Her counterpart, the freshman Laden, did well to keep the Bobcats on level terms during Northeastern's domination of the first half of play, but was lifted after the Wallace goal in favor of junior and regular started Victoria Vigilanti, who went unscathed through the game's final 14 minutes.
At 4-0-0 and with two wins this weekend over Quinnipiac and Union, Northeastern looks to improve on their No. 8 national ranking, as announced Monday by USA Today. They currently hold the top spot in the NCAA Div. I RPI rankings. The Huskies return to action next weekend with their first road games of the year, at Princeton on Friday (7 p.m.) and at Yale on Saturday (3 p.m.).