February 19, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Red Ends Regular Season With Two Home Victories

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With two victories over the weekend, the No. 3 women’s hockey team enjoyed a fitting end to its impressive regular season. In two exciting contests at Lynah Rink, the Red (26-3-0, 20-2-0 ECAC Hockey) defeated Clarkson (21-8-5, 15-5-2), 2-1, on Friday night, and ousted St. Lawrence (20-9-4, 14-6-2), 3-2, on Senior Night the following day. Cornell already clinched the ECAC title last weekend, but these wins put the team on a seven-game winning streak heading into the playoffs, which start next weekend.

When Cornell last faced Clarkson on Jan. 28, the Knights came away with a 5-3 victory.  Therefore, according to senior forward and captain Chelsea Karpenko, the Red had revenge on its mind entering Friday’s contest.

“The loss was definitely still fresh on our minds, so there was an element of revenge there,” she said.  “We wanted to pay them back.”

In the rematch, Cornell  jumped out to an early lead thanks to a strong individual effort from senior forward and captain Rebecca Johnston.  According to Johnston, the goal developed when she hit the puck into Clarkson’s end after a face-off.

“There was a face-off at the blue line and they won it back, but I hit it into the corner, chased it down, went around the net, and shot it above the goalies’ shoulder,” she said.

The Red also grabbed the early advantage against the Saints the following night, and Cornell has frequently been effective in grabbing the early lead throughout the season.  According to senior forward and captain Chelsea Karpenko, the Red recognizes the importance of starting strong and has focused on that throughout the season.

“It’s important because it helps you build momentum and really sets the opposing team back on their heals to start the game,” she said. “Coming out strong and getting that lead early is definitely something we’ve been trying to focus on lately, and we’ve been doing a good job with it.”

The Golden Knights tied the game in the second period, and after a scoreless third, the game went to overtime. The Red dominated control of the puck from the very beginning, and netted the winner when freshman forward Jillian Saulnier banked a shot off the post and into the goal.  The play went to video review, but it was ultimately upheld as a goal.

According to Johnston, the Red was determined to get the winner in overtime after it let Clarkson come back earlier in the game.

“It was a great overtime for us,” she said.  “We came out strong and they didn’t get any opportunities, so that showed us bearing down and really wanting to win it.  We came out a little flat in the second period, so to see us bounce back and adapt was a really good step for us.”

On Senior Night against the Saints, the Red earned a 3-0 lead by the midway point of the second period.  After it let St. Lawrence climb back to make it 3-2, the Red played solid defense to hold on to the lead and get the win.

According to Karpenko, being able to play strong defensively and hold leads will be very important in upcoming playoff games.

“With the playoffs starting up, every game will be close and every team will be fighting right to the end, so to be able to hang on to a lead, that’s what it will come down to in the playoffs,” she said.  “Getting a glimpse of that before playoffs start was really important for us.”

Senior goaltender Amanda Mazzota — who has been injured since Jan. 27 — was back in net for these two contests.

“Its great to have her back,” she said. “It was nice to see her back,  playing well and confident like she normally is.”

According to Johnston, Senior Night was a special moment for the Red’s six graduating seniors.

“It’s an emotional, happy and exciting day,” she said. “It was a great night for the seniors, and winning made it that much better.”

According to Karpenko, Cornell is now eager to start the playoffs.

“This is what you play all year for,” she said. “It all comes down to the playoffs, so there’s a new element of excitement, and everyone knows there’s no second chances, so we have to give it all we’ve got.”

Original Author: Ben Horowitz

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