The Cornell women’s hockey team played its most important Ivy League games of the season this weekend and proved that it was up for the task. The Red first defeated No. 5 Harvard (19-4-2, 15-2-1 ECAC) Friday night, 3-1, in front of a packed crowd at Lynah Rink. Cornell then tied Dartmouth (15-7-5, 10-6-4 ECAC), 0-0, in its Senior Day game on Saturday. With the win and tie, the Red guaranteed itself at least a share of the Ivy League title. If Harvard loses or ties either of its final two Ivy League contests, the Red will win the title outright.
“We’ve won the title the past three years and it stinks that we may have to share it,” said junior forward Jessica Campbell. “But I think that we overcame some big obstacles and played some big games early in the year, and it wasn’t an easy battle, so just being able to share the title is huge. We’re proud that we have that title.”
Campbell said the win against the Crimson was a defining moment for the squad.
“It was a huge win against Harvard, and if we didn’t come up with that win, then we wouldn’t have even been sharing or winning it,” she said. “So we’re excited that we have the title and it’s something to build off for the rest of the year, giving us confidence going forward.”
A full and fired-up Lynah Rink crowd cheered the Red in its path to victory. According to Campbell, the Lynah faithful energized the Red and provided a valuable home advantage.
“We wanted to pack Lynah because we knew that we would use that energy to our advantage, and just stepping on the ice, all the girls were fired up to see the energy in the crowd,” Campbell said. “It really felt like we were playing ing a men’s game, and it brought back the energy we had from our triple overtime playoff win over BU last year. They were so loud and it made it tough for the other team to play in, but even more so it helped us establish our game and keep the energy going for the whole game.”
The Red took the lead early in the first period on a goal from senior defenseman Lauriane Rougeau. According to sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier, scoring first was a critical step in the Red being able to pull off the win.
“It was huge because we’ve struggled sometimes with getting off to a fast start, so we needed to make sure to get the first goal, and that got us going,” she said. “That goal got us pumped up, the crowd was going wild and it was crucial for the win.”
The Crimson tied the game in the second period. However, Cornell took the lead for good midway through the third on a goal from Campbell — her first of two in the game. Senior forward Erin Barley Maloney passed the puck to Campbell, who skated around the defensemen, drove to the net and beat the goalie over her shoulder. With six minutes to go and the Red on the penalty kill, Barley-Maloney again passed to Campbell, leading her on a break-away that she converted for her second goal of the game. According to Campbell, Barley-Maloney was critical in assisting both goals.
“I give a lot of credit to Erin,” she said. “She got it all started. On the first one she went hard to the corner, made a nice pass to me and I just saw the opening and went for it. It was a one-on-one and I just tried to get a backhand on net and it went in.”
Barley-Maloney also gave Campbell the opportunity to net her second goal of the game.
“On the second one, Erin hustled and chipped the puck out of the zone, I beat the defenseman to the puck and she was trying to pull me down, but I just tried to stay on my feet and keep going. I threw the goalie off a bit, I got a quick release and it went in. I was fortunate to be able to contribute to the team’s success,” Campbell said
According to Saulnier, Campbell’s exceptional speed sets her apart from other players and led to her success.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Campbell after that game,” she said. “That’s the Campbell we love to see. She’s unstoppable with her speed. I watched the goal on tape and I couldn’t believe that she was able to stay on her feet. She had an exceptional game and I’m sure she’ll continue to do so for the rest of the season.”
The following game against the Big Green was a tough contest, with each team struggling to score in both regulation and overtime. According to Campbell, having a better shot selection and attacking the net could have helped the Red net that elusive goal.
“We shot a lot of pucks at the feet of the defensemen,” she said. “Changing the point of our shots may have been effective. We were frustrated, so we were just trying to throw anything on net rather than getting crisp quality chances. We just wanted that one goal to go in, but if we crashed the net a little better, there may have been more opportunities.”
According to Saulnier, the Red’s chemistry was not always there.
“Sometimes that happens in hockey, but we could have used everyone on the ice better,” she said. “Sometimes when you get in those panic situations you get too individualized, but its important for us to just keep our composure and continue to play like we know how to play. That ultimately leads to goals.”
Despite the neutral result, senior day was still an important tribute to the contributions that the team’s seniors have given the past four years, according to Saulnier.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our seniors,” she said. “They’ve led the way tremendously well. Each one brings something different but all are crucial. They’ve been huge parts of our success this year and hopefully they will continue to lead the way the rest of the season.”