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SLU women’s hockey team advances to ECAC semis with shutout win

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HAMDEN, CT - The St. Lawrence University women’s hockey team took another step towards defending its conference crown on Sunday, defeating Quinnipiac University 2-0 in the deciding game of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal series.

Four members of the Saints’ Class of 2013 had points, including Brooke Fernandez, whose goal tied for the most by a defenseman in University history.

Sophomore goalie Carmen MacDonald posted her second shutout of the weekend with 34 saves for the visitors, outdueling Quinnipiac’s senior Victoria Vigilanti, who made 19 for the home team. The Saints move to 19-13-5 and set up a date with top-seeded Cornell University next weekend in Ithaca, NY, while the Bobcats’ season comes to an end at 20-12-4.

“I think both teams knew the first goal was going to be important tonight,” said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells. “To get a second one at the end of the first was a big boost too. We hung on through the second and were able to weather the storm. We had plenty of good bounces go our way in the third and great efforts all around to preserve the win.”

Despite the tough triple overtime loss on Saturday, St. Lawrence came out in the first period and arguably played their best stanza of the series. Fernandez gave the Scarlet and Brown the 1-0 lead on a blast from just inside the blue line through traffic for her seventh of the year, and 25th of her career, tying Annie Guay ’08 for the most by a blueliner in Saints history. Senior Michelle Ng picked up the lone assist on the power play goal, which would stand as the game-winning goal at 12:34.

Only 5:53 later, St. Lawrence was celebrating its second goal of the period, as senior captain Kelly Sabatine scored her 18th of the year and seventh career post-season goal for a 2-0 lead. Though Vigilanti was able two initial shots, a long rebound came to Sabatine in the slot, and shot one-timed a shot into the net for an insurance goal. Senior Kayla Sullivan and Fernandez assisted on the goal that came at 18:27.

Though St. Lawrence would own a 14-9 advantage in shots, Quinnipiac would respond with an aggressive forecheck in the second period that led to a 15-4 edge in shots. MacDonald was brilliant yet again, withstanding the flurry and getting some help from the left post on a bid by Erica Uden Johanssen.

In what proved to be a crucial moment in the game, the Saints’ penalty kill delivered a huge boost late in the frame, killing off a 5-on-3 try for 1:31 to keep the 2-0 lead intact. MacDonald once again was fantastic, kicking away tries from both Uden Johanssen and Quinnipiac leading scorer Kelly Babstock to help her team escape the second period.

The Saints were very efficient in the third period, changing often for fresh legs and dumping the puck deep into Bobcat territory to kill time. Babstock had a great chance to her team on the board midway through the final stanza on a 2-on-1, but her shot after a nice crossing pass sailed wide of the half-empty net.

MacDonald’s shutout bid appeared to come to an end when the puck crossed the red line on a scrum in front with just over three minutes to go. However, the referee instantly waived the goal off due to a kicking motion, and the play was confirmed no-goal by instant replay.

Quinnipiac would pull Vigilanti in the final 1:15 to try and draw closer. However, the St. Lawrence defense, anchored throughout the weekend by strong play by Dayle Wilkinson and Amanda Boulier, protected MacDonald and allowed the Saints to leave the High Point Solutions Arena with a 2-0 victory and a 2-1 win in the series.

Saturday’s semi-final against host Cornell is slated to face-off at 1 p.m. Second-seeded Clarkson and Harvard square off in the other semi at 4 p.m. The ECAC Championship Game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.

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