With the regular season officially over for the Cornell women’s hockey team, the Red sits in third place in the league standings heading into the ECAC tournament, a strong turnaround from the team’s seventh-place finish last year. The Red finished off the season with two final overtime games at Lynah against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, teams that finished first and second in the league, respectively, and are in the top-5 nationally.
Cornell’s (17-7-5, 13-4-5 ECAC) first match of the weekend came against No. 5 St. Lawrence on Friday night (24-4-4, 16-3-3), a game where the Red would have liked to see a better start out of the gates. The Saints came out strong and earned a power play just under four minutes into the opening period and capitalized just 30 seconds into the man-advantage.
St. Lawrence would score another goal in the second period when Kennedy Marchment intercepted a pass and put the puck away for a 2-0 lead going into the final period of regulation. The goal came amidst consistent Cornell pressure and dominant play throughout the second period.
“I thought tonight we were a little bit on our heels, especially in the first period,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “We knew we were playing one of the best teams in the league, and maybe we just didn’t focus enough on playing our game and focused too much on them — we were just a little bit hesitant.”
Despite the deficit going into the final period, the Red determinedly held its ground. Part of that renewed energy came as a rallying cry around sophomore forward Pippy Gerace, who took a nasty spill in the boards and injured her left leg.
“I think we really knew that we could keep up with them, bring the pace, and we knew that we were still in the game,” said freshman Amy Curlew. “We had a lot of energy in us, and between periods we talked to each other and we knew that we could get it done.”
Cornell came out and cut the lead to 2-1 just 3:02 into the final period. A blocked puck found freshman Jaime Bourbonnais, who sent a top-shelf slapper from the point in for a goal.
With 9:20 left to play, the Red tied it up after a strong effort by the freshmen. Paige Lewis found Kristin O’Neill who managed a shot that was saved by goaltender Grace Harrison’s glove. Curlew collected the rebound and again knotted the game up. It was the second time this season that a goal and both assists came from the Red’s freshmen class.
The game headed into overtime, but neither team was able to break the deadlock as the game finished in a 2-2 tie, which extended the Red’s unbeaten streak to seven.
“I thought as the game went on, we started to play more of our game and more aggressive,” Derraugh said. “It was big for us, to be down 2-0 going into the third period and to be able to come back like that.”
Cornell took the energy from the final period against St. Lawrence and the emotions of senior night and came out strong when Clarkson came to visit Lynah Saturday afternoon. It was the Red who handed the Golden Knights (25-4-5, 19-1-2) its only conference loss of the year the last time these two played.
Senior forward Brianna Veerman opened the scoring at the 6:21 mark of the first period to put the Red up 1-0. Clarkson responded and tied the game up one, but goals from Lenka Serdar and Curlew put the Red up 3-1 heading into the first break. Curlew’s goal was her second in as many games, and extended her point streak to five games.
The Red knew, however, that Clarkson would not lie down.
“We talked about resetting — there was a lot of energy in the room being up 3-1 after the first period,” Derraugh said. “But making sure that when we went back out there we remained focused and doing the same things that we’ve been doing. I think in the first ten minutes we did [that], but in the second half of the second period is where we really got ourselves into trouble.”
The Red found itself in penalty trouble in the second period, as a pair of goals from Cayley Mercer tied the game for the Knights 3-3 heading into the final period of play. Both teams tacked on another goal in the third period, sending the Red to its second overtime for the weekend.
In overtime, the Knights got three shots on goal before it scored the game winner just 46 seconds into the game, spoiling The Red’s senior night and sending the Red away with only one point for the weekend.
ECAC playoffs will open for the Red as Cornell hosts the sixth-seed Colgate in a best-of-three series starting on Friday. The Red split the regular-season series with the Raiders, as both teams took its home match.