Brown’s goal guides Bobcats to title

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Carolyn Fales

Photo  courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Andrew Weiss 


Whenever Quinnipiac and Clarkson play, it is a battle. Low-scoring, physical games that are typically decided by one goal. Even in the ECAC Championship, both sides wouldn’t break from the script. This time, the ending called for a Bobcats trophy sweep.

Nicole Brown scored with 2:40 left in the first period, Sydney Rossman made 16 saves, and Quinnipiac clinched their first ever ECAC postseason championship 1-0. This came weeks after their first ever ECAC regular season title.

“I’m a little speechless tonight,” said Quinnipiac head coach Cass Turner. “Our team battled so hard. Clarkson is such good hockey team.”

Clarkson roared out of the gate early in the first period. They dominated possession, holding Quinnipiac to no shots until 11 minutes into the game. However, the Bobcats rallied to outshoot the Golden Knights five to three after the first 20 minutes of action, including the opening goal.

Nicole Brown scored her eighth goal of the season when she put home a rebound off of a Nicole Connery shot. Connery was parked in the high slot and fired off a shot that missed the net. However, it bounced off of the boards right to the stick of Brown, who put it past a sliding Shea Tiley for the first goal.

“I was just kind of swinging at it, and I saw it go over the (goal line),” said Brown.

“(Connery and Brown) found ways to make plays that we needed,” said Turner. “That’s what you want in big games from your experienced players.”

The second period provided more fireworks, although neither side lit the lamp. A rough, chippy game grew into pushing and shoving when Ambrose took an interference call by checking Taylar Cianfarano. It ended with Ambrose in the box, and Emma Woods and Cianfarano being held back by their teammates.

“It was amazing to see the body language of our kids,” said Turner. “(They said) ‘We are not going to get involved in that this period.’ They knew that was going to be really important, so they were really disciplined.”

Rossman was big in the second period for Quinnipiac, stopping several Clarkson chances. She kicked away an Olivia Howe deflection, then moments later covered the puck after a shot hit the post.

In the third, Clarkson battled to try to tie up the game. They outshot the Bobcats nine to five, but couldn’t place a puck behind Rossman. Quinnipiac also blocked eight shots. The highlight moment was when Rossman denied Cayley Mercer, a finalist for ECAC Forward of the Year, on a shorthanded breakaway.

“I just remember (knowing it was Mercer) and I knew she was probably going to deke,” said Rossman. “It’s something she does more often… I just tried to stay composed. I knew I could stop her.”

Rossman came up big for the Bobcats in the game, out-dueling Shea Tiley. Tiley played well herself, finishing with 16 saves to keep the Golden Knights in the game despite the one goal deficit.

However, Rossman’s 16th shutout of the season, tying a program record, drove the Bobcats to the win. This was evidenced when she won Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. She was also named to the ECAC All-Tournament team.

“You don’t win championships without a great goalie,” said Turner. “(Rossman) has been a rock for us whenever we need her, she’s been there.”

“I owe it to the team,” said Rossman. “Without them, none of those awards would have been possible. This is great, but obviously we have more work to do.”

Bobcats Emma Greco (defense), Nicole Connery (forward) and Nicole Brown (forward) were also named to the ECAC All-Tournament team. They were joined by Shannon MacAulay (forward) and Erin Ambrose (defense) from the Golden Knights.

Quinnipiac moves on to the NCAA tournament after clinching the ECAC automatic bid. Clarkson will likely gain an at-large bid, and there is a high probability the two teams play again next weekend in Hamden.