Following a split road weekend last weekend, the Cornell women’s hockey team returns to Lynah to face ECAC foes Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union. These two games end the Red’s five game road trip, where the team earned four straight wins before falling to Clarkson last weekend. The action starts tonight at 7 p.m., when the Red will hit the ice to take on the Engineers, and continues tomorrow at 4 p.m., when the Dutchwomen come to the Hill.
The No. 3 Red (19-3, 14-2 ECAC Hockey) was on the nation’s longest winning streak after defeating St. Lawrence on the road last weekend (claiming the title from St. Lawrence). However, that honor was quickly stripped from the team when Clarkson scored four second-period goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Red, ultimately handing Cornell its first loss since it played then-No. 6 Mercyhurst.
While the Red enters the game coming off of a rough loss, both RPI and Union come to Lynah in the middle of difficult seasons. The Engineers (8-16-1, 5-9-2 ECAC Hockey) currently sit in ninth place in the ECAC, although they are coming off of a sweep of the Dutchwomen last weekend. Union (4-20-4, 2-12-2) comes into tomorrow night’s game holding onto eleventh place in the ECAC, just above Yale, which was the last team the Dutchwomen beat almost two weeks ago on January 21st.
Even with two of its weaker ECAC opponents coming into town this weekend, the Red knows that it will need to be determined and focused to get the most out of the series. The team plans to use the homestand to get back into top form after the loss to Clarkson.
“Every team in our league is good,” said senior forward Chelsea Karpenko. “You’ve got to show up every game to win, but you can’t just show up every game and win. We’ve got to work harder to do the things that make us successful.”
Fellow senior forward Catherine White agreed.
“We haven’t really been playing to our potential,” she said. “This week we’ve made a few adjustments … a little bit more focus on our [defensive] zone and on our forecheck. I think if we focus on these things we’ll be successful this weekend.”
The last time the Red saw RPI was in a Jan. 7 contest at RPI’s Houston Fieldhouse, where the Red skated away with a 3-0 victory on goals from senior forward Kendice Ogilvie, junior defenseman Laura Fortino and sophomore forward Brianne Jenner. Since that matchup, the Red went on to win seven straight games, including wins over Top-10 Harvard and Dartmouth. The Red will be challenged by freshman standout forward Eleeza Cox, who was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Month for January after scoring 12 goals and notching eight assists on the season thus far. RPI will likely play its heart out until the end of the game, as the Engineers are currently fighting against Brown for the last spot in the ECAC tournament pointswise.
“They’re going to bring their best,” Karpenko said. “They’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, so we’ve definitely got to be ready for that. We can’t afford any slow starts or to give them an inch out there.”
The Red last saw Union on Jan. 6, delivering a sound 9-1 trouncing of the Dutchwomen at Union’s Achilles Center in Schenectady. Like the earlier RPI game, things started off with a first period goal by Ogilvie, followed by another eight goals from five different Cornell players.
That being said, the Red is not underestimating the Dutchwomen and knows how dangerous a downtrodden team can be.
“I think with any team you have to be playing your best,” White said. “We’re obviously top in our league and, with that said, we have a target on our back, so we’ve got to expect the best game from all of our opponents. I think we need to focus on the things that are important, like our [defensive] zone and playing hard no matter who our opponent is.”