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Quinnipiac Bobcats win thriller in women's hockey opener

Hamden, CT -- The Quinnipiac University Bobcats combined a relentless offensive mindset with defensive tenacity to prevail, 3-2, over the University of Maine in their women's hockey season opener at home on Friday night.

Alexa Hoskin and Courtney Vorster tallied clutch goals in the second period to break a 1-1 deadlock and put Quinnipiac ahead to stay. Vorster went top shelf with what turned out being the decisive score with 36 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

Jess Schryver (22), Olivia Konigson (12) and Taylor House (10) are among the celebrants as the Quinnipiac women's hockey team defeated the University of Maine in its season opener. Photo courtesy of Rob Rasmussen/Quinnipiac University.

Vorster found herself all alone with the puck in the low slot and lofted one over Porter's shoulder. Jess Schryver and Lexie Adzija assisted that goal with pressure deep in the Black Bears' zone.

Vorster's tally proved critical as Maine's Maddie Giordano cut the deficit to 3-2 with eight minutes remaining in the contest at the People's United Center.

"Maine just battles; they just keep fighting and competing," Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner said after the hard-fought showdown. "We did so many good things ... (our players) made the right play for the right moment, and were willing to do what it took within that shift."

Hoskin (goal, assist) assured that she and Sadie Peart (two assists) would enjoy a multi-point night when she took control of a loose puck in heavy traffic near the paint and knocked it past Maine goalie Loryn Porter midway through the second period to make it 2-1 at that point.

"(Hoskin) is playing with a different level of confidence than I've ever seen her play," coach Turner said. "She's doing so well at center and she is also solid defensively."

Peart, who also had the primary assist on Nina Steigauf's goal 52 seconds into the contest, set up the play with a shot initially deflected but that wound up in front of Porter.

The Bobcats' aggressiveness from the outset quickly paid off when Steigauf ripped the puck past Porter after receiving a nice backhand pass from Peart on the left side for the 1-0 lead.

Hoskin also had a helper on Steigauf's goal, which resulted from Quinnipiac applying pressure right off the opening faceoff.

The Bobcats continued operating on all cylinders throughout the first 20 minutes as the Black Bears could not manage a shot until the 17:33 mark of the first period.

Quinnipiac outshot the visitors 10-4 in that period, but Maine did have several solid chances -- three within a 15-second span -- in the closing minutes and was able to test netminder Logan Anders.

"She kept herself in the game mentally," coach Turner said of Anders. "She's a calm goaltender; she lets pucks come to her and is really comfortable. She had some great saves for us in those big moments."

The Bobcats, who continued their offensive intensity with 17 shots in the middle frame and finished outshooting the Black Bears 36-22, established themselves in front of the net and had the Black Bears in a chasing game until their late initial-period flurry.

Maine, on the man advantage after Quinnipiac was penalized with one second left in the first period, got the equalizer just 1:15 into the second period.

A key moment defensively came when, with two minutes left in the second period, the Black Bears were set up for a wide open shot from the right circle but Olivia Konigson came through with an excellent poke check to avert the threat.

Anders was outstanding throughout the game as the junior from Winnipeg, Manitoba turned aside several point-blank chances.

Both squads are right back at it again on Saturday as they wrap up their two-game series with a 3 p.m. matinee contest.

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