Five-OT Thriller Decides ECAC Playoff Series

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The No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team’s road to the ECAC tournament semifinals was smooth. 5-1 and 4-1 trouncings of Princeton gave the third-seeded Crimson a spot in the conference final four.

Rensselaer, on the other hand, did not have such an easy time of it.

The best-of-three series between fourth-seeded Quinnipiac and the fifth-seeded Engineers will go down as one of the most dramatic in ECAC history.

Friday night’s Game 1 got interesting when Bobcat Kallie Flor scored with just over five minutes to play in the game to tie the score at one. 8:46 into double overtime, her teammate Chelsea Illchuk lit the lamp to give Quinnipiac a 2-1 victory.

Though Saturday’s Game 2 was decided in regulation, it was just as tight a contest—Rensselaer came away with a 1-0 win on the strength of an Alisa Harrison power-play tally.

But none of that compared to the drama of Game 3.

With their seasons on the line—the winner promised a place in the conference semis, and the loser sent home—each squad left everything on the ice.

Regulation ended, again, with the score knotted at one after a late-game Quinnipiac tally. Overtime after overtime passed with nothing to add to the score sheet except more saves for the Engineers’ Sonja van der Bliek and the Bobcats’ Victoria Vigilanti.

And finally, in the fifth overtime, Rensselaer captain Laura Gersten put an end to things.

The senior took a pass from Whitney Naslund and put the puck just over Vigilanti’s glove—a shot that hit the crossbar and dropped straight down, causing a deliberation amongst the officials, who eventually ruled it a goal.

Van der Bliek finished with 49 saves while Vigilanti recorded 57. It was the longest NCAA-sponsored women’s hockey game in history at 145 minutes, just 1:03 shy of breaking the record set by the 1996 ECAC Championship game between New Hampshire and Providence.

Now the Engineers—led by Gersten, who also scored the overtime game-winner in last year’s ECAC semifinal, when Rensselaer upset top-seeded Harvard, 3-2—advance to play No. 1 seed Cornell in Friday’s semifinal matchup, while Quinnipiac heads home heartbroken.

The Crimson will travel to Potsdam, N.Y. on Friday to take on second-seeded Clarkson. The semifinal winners will advance to Sunday’s championship game, which will be hosted by the highest-remaining seed.

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