January 26, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Red to Face Conference Rivals

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Following road victories over two Top-10 opponents last weekend, the Cornell women’s hockey team will hit the road again Friday for one of the season’s traditionally tough road trips, traveling to northern New York to take on ECAC foes St. Lawrence and Clarkson. The Red faces St. Lawrence on Friday night in the Saints’ Appleton Arena, in Canton, N.Y. The action will continue Saturday afternoon, with the Red making the 11-mile trip to Potsdam, where it will face the Knights  in Clarkson’s Cheel Arena.The No. 2 Red (18-2-0, 13-1-0 ECAC Hockey) currently sits atop the ECAC standings, four points ahead of second-place Quinnipiac —  who has played two more conference games than the Red. St. Lawrence (14-7-4, 8-4-2), on the other hand, currently finds itself in a three-way tie with Dartmouth and Clarkson (14-7-5, 8-4-2) for third place in the ECAC.Still, when the Red matches up against the Saints, a tough battle can be expected from a team that frequently succeeds with home-ice advantage.“Playing in their rink is definitely a home advantage for them,” said senior forward and captain Catherine White. “It’s got a really small neutral zone and it has a way of being really advantageous to their team.”The Saints’ momentum may be an even greater advantage than playing on home ice. Currently on the country’s longest unbeaten streak, the Saints, lead by ECAC Hockey Player of the Week Rylee Smith, have not lost a game since they were defeated by No. 7 Mercyhurst on Nov. 23. Mercyhurst is also the team that last defeated Cornell, on Dec. 3.  Heating up at just the right time, White expects the Saints to try to seriously damage the Red, who will attempt to bolster their conference lead in the run-up to the end of the season.“Anytime we play a team, we’re the team with a target on our back,” White said.  “We know they’re going to be giving us their best game, so we know we have to be ready to play them. That’s for sure. We can’t be caught sleeping.”“It really just takes one weekend to slip up and lose points and another team [will be] right behind you, ready to take your spot,” said senior forward and captain Chelsea Karpenko. “Like any other weekend it’s going to be tough and it’s really important to try to come out with as many points as possible.”Although Clarkson is even with St. Lawrence in the standings, the team has skidded lately, dropping three of its last six, including a loss and a tie to St. Lawrence last weekend. The Knights were playing their best hockey at the midpoint of the season, but have struggled over the last few weeks.  However, the Red realizes that the Knights are still one of the more formidable teams in the conference and warrant serious preparation.“They like to trap,” White said. “They’re not as fast as St. Lawrence, but they’re a very physical team [and] also very talented.”The Red will especially aim to limit forward Carly Mercer, who has tallied 30 points this season.Although the players prefer to focus on team success rather than individual performances, several players stand out on the stats sheet.  Freshman forward Jillian Saulnier has earned the most points per game of any freshman in the country, junior defenseman Laura Fortino leads the category of points per game by defensemen and sophomore goaltender Lauren Slebodnick leads the country in goals against average and win percentage. Senior goalkeeper Amanda Mazzotta was also named ECAC Goaltender of the Week for her shutouts of No. 9 Harvard and No. 10 Dartmouth last weekend.

Original Author: Zach Waller

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