Quinnipiac tops Union 4-3 on shoulders of junior captain

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: M.J. Baird 

In sports, teams that are struggling to produce good results often lean towards their leaders to work out of ruts.

That couldn’t have been exhibited any better than on Friday night, as the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team looked to the one who wears the “C” on her jersey, Melissa Samoskevich.

The junior captain notched a hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in Quinnipiac’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Union Dutchwomen at the Frank Perrotti Jr. arena.

“I don’t know if she made many mistakes today,” Bobcats’ head coach Cassandra Turner said about her captain. “She was the player that I know she wants to be every day and that was pretty neat. It has been building to that, she has been playing better and better every game. To see her get the hat trick was a pretty neat moment and to score the OT goal you could just see it in the way she was playing and how she was feeling that that was going to be her goal today.”

Towards the end of a shift in the extra frame, Samoskevich skated into the offensive zone and was unaccounted for by Union’s defense. She received a pass from line mate Raquel Pennoyer at the top of the face off circle, and skated towards the middle of the ice before ripping a shot low and hard to the blocker side of Union goaltender Coco Francis.

Shooting through a screen, Samoskevich’s shot found its way to the back of the net and signaled victory for the Bobcats.

“We knew we could do it the whole time, but it felt like we were chasing and just kind of climbing a mountain that game and it felt like we got to the top there at the end,” Samoskevich said. “It gives me the step up mentally for myself. It gives me confidence in myself to do it, and its fun to lead the team like that. I hope people follow, and I know that they will.”

The Bobcats may have won in overtime, but wouldn’t have been in that position if it weren’t for a last second goal in regulation.

“Pretty wild hockey game,” Turner said. “I don’t think I’ve been a part of a game where we have given up a goal in the last few seconds of a period and we score a goal in the last few seconds of a period.”

As time wound down on the third period, the Dutchwomen held a 3-2 lead over the Bobcats. With less than three minutes to play, Turner pulled goaltender Abby Ives for an extra attacker.

The Bobcats weren’t able to muster up too many quality chances on the 6-on-5, but the best chance they did get resulted in the game-tying goal with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock.

“I got on with about seven seconds left and my thinking was just go as hard as I could to the net,” freshman forward Taylor House said. “I saw (Kenzie Lancaster) coming behind the net with the puck and I called for it and she threw it towards the net. It got a lucky bounce, it came right to me and I shot it.”

House’s goal was only the second of her Quinnipiac career, but she chuckled and said that it was “up there” on her list of most exciting goals ever.

Union scored a last second goal of their own to end the second period. Although the goal seemed to have crucial implications as it occurred, it was overshadowed by Quinnipiac’s resiliency at the end of the game.

House, along with her teammates, looked up to their captain all game long and were impressed by her efforts.

“This was a big step for us, and for (Samoskevich) to just grind out and get that for us, it was huge,” House said. “We were all trying to follow her the entire game because we could tell that she just wanted to win. She brought the energy to the entire team.”

Union struck first, but it was Samoskevich’s first goal of the night that tied the score halfway through the second period.

In an offensive zone face off following a media timeout, Bobcats center Kenzie Lancaster won the puck back to defenseman Kati Tabin.

Instead of firing the puck on net, Tabin cycled the puck to Samoskevich who was streaking down the half wall. The cycle caught the Dutchwomen off guard, as the Bobcats captain had time and space to cut to the front of the net.

Samoskevich shot the puck into the far side corner of the net with ease to tie the score at 1-1.

“It is a face off we have done before and we have a couple looks off of it,” Turner said. “Face off plays are good if players make the right looks based on what the situation is going to be, and Kati and Melissa made great looks off that faceoff and it was nice to see that play work for us.”

Samoskevich notched her second goal of the night on the power play in the third period, a one-timer from the bottom of the left face off circle off a rebound.

Despite the four goals scored, the Bobcats still struggled defensively allowing three goals on only 12 shots.

“We just shouldn’t be giving up the opportunities that we gave up. We shouldn’t be giving up the 3-on-1, we shouldn’t be in a position where we are at the end of a period and they are scoring with a few seconds to go, that is not okay,” Turner said. “I think mentally for them to continue to battle that is the lesson and that is the excitement that the group has right now. For us as a coaching staff I think that is a new mentality and we are excited about that.”

After earning their second conference win of the season Friday night, the Bobcats will look to pick up their first weekend sweep of the season tomorrow night against RPI. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

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