The No.4 Cornell women’s hockey team failed to extend its eight-game winning streak in its first game this past weekend, but the Red (20-5, 15-3 ECAC) bounced back with an encouraging win the following day. Quinnipiac (16-9-3, 10-5-2 ECAC) defeated the Red on Friday, 4-1, but Cornell beat Princeton (9-14-2, 4-12-2 ECAC) the following day by the same score.
The Red’s sluggish start against the Bobcats put the squad into a hole from which it could not recover. Quinnipiac outshot the Red in the first period and took a 1-0 lead. Cornell was more aggressive in the second period but could not score, and the Bobcats extended their lead to 2-0. According to head coach Doug Derraugh, the Red failed to overcome the Bobcat’s aggressive forecheck and was back on its heels at the start of the game.
“They got pucks in deep on us, and they’re an aggressive forechecking team,” Derraugh said. “That caused us to have turnovers on our breakouts, which created chances for them right off the bat. For the first 10 to 12 minutes, we spent most of the time trying to get out of our own end, and give credit to them for breaking up our breakout, but we didn’t do a good job of executing.”
According to sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier, the Red has had a tendency to start slowly in away games and must make an effort to improve in the future.
“This seems to be a trend we’ve been having at the beginning of away games, and this is something we need to change immediately,” she said. “We can’t sit back on our heels like that because from now on it’s crunch time, so we need to make sure to come out with a fast start, and that will be crucial for us the rest of the season.”
The Red had chances to come back, outshooting Quinnipiac in the second and third periods. However, it couldn’t score until late in the third period, when Quinnipiac already had a 3-0 lead and the game was almost over. According to Saulnier, the Red could have had more offensive success if it had been able to get more pucks to the net.
“Getting the puck to the net more is crucial,” she said. “Sometimes we try to be a little too pretty with it. We need to get back to the basics and doing the little things that we do right- which is get the puck, move it fast and get it to the net.”
According to Derraugh, playing on the road is no excuse for a lethargic start to the game.
“The main thing is that we need to be better at the start of the game,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to be ready, regardless of where we’re playing, who we’re playing, and what time we’re playing. That’s the way it is in the playoffs. If you’re going to win in the playoffs, you need to play as well on the road as you do at home, and I don’t think we were as ready as we needed to be at the start of this game.”
The Red did just the opposite in the game against the Tigers, scoring the game’s first goal on a power play. According to Derraugh, the Red was aggressive and was on the attack early in the game.
“We did get off to a better start, getting the puck into their end, creating some turnovers and a lot of opportunities early in the game,” Derraugh said.
Cornell also outshot Princeton by a wide margin and controlled the puck for most of the game. According to Saulnier, playing a solid team game and controlling the puck are important keys to the Red’s success.
“We’re having our best games when we have the puck and are moving around, playing with confidence and playing our style of game,” she said. “We got back to the basics and did the little things right. We worked as a team and depended on each other, and thats how we came out with the win.”
Princeton tied the game at the beginning of the third period, but the Red answered with three straight goals to seal the win. One notable statistic was that the Red only took one penalty throughout the game. According to Derraugh, making sure the team does not take penalties is an important ingredient for winning.
“That’s something we’ve been stressing in the second half. If you’re going to be successful at the end of the year, you’ve got to be disciplined, stay out of the penalty box and keep your emotions in check, and we did that well against Princeton.”
The Red now looks forward to next weekend’s home games against Harvard and Dartmouth. Harvard is one point behind the Red, but is two games ahead in the ECAC standings, so the game against Harvard may determine who will win the Ivy League. According to Derraugh, the Red is excited to play for the ECAC and Ivy League titles at the season comes to a close.
“This is a veteran group of players that have been in these situations, so they know what needs to be done in order to be successful this time of year, so they feel good about the work they’ve put in all year to give themselves the opportunity to win the Ivy League championship and go further in the playoffs,” he said.
Original Author: Ben Horowitz