The No. 2 Cornell women’s hockey team began its ECAC schedule with two victories over opponents that the Red has become accustomed to defeating in recent seasons. The Red beat Brown (1-1-0, 1-1-0 ECAC) in 11 consecutive contests heading into Friday’s game at Lynah Rink, and again proved victorious in a 2-0 shutout.
Similarly, the Red handily defeated Yale (1-3-0, 1-1-0) in two contests last season and defeated the Bulldogs on Saturday in a close game, 3-2. According to senior defenseman Laura Fortino, the Red (4-1-0, 2-0-0) is excited about winning its first two ECAC contests.
“As a team it feels really good to win these two big Ivy League games,” she said. “That was really important for us, and to have those two under our belt is a great start and we’re really excited and continuing to get better as a team.”
The Red was on the attack from the outset in the game against Brown, and outshot the Bears by a wide margin in the first period. However, Brown’s goalie did not back down and the game was still scoreless after one period of play. The Red ultimately broke through with a power-play goal by freshman forward Taylor Woods at the beginning of the second. According to sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier, staying patient and not getting frustrated led helped the Red finally take the lead.
“It was really important to stay patient because you can’t get on your heels and think too much about scoring,” she said. “We knew the goals would come if we stayed focused. It was really important that we kept our composure and fortunately things worked out for us.”
“It could get frustrating to not capitalize on your offensive chances, but as a team we did a good job of staying focused on our tactics and doing the little things right,” Fortino added. “It was a positive that we kept on getting those shots, and the amount of focus we put on not being selfish and playing a good team game really helped us in those two victories.”
One of the keys the to this victory was the Red’s strong penalty kill. Cornell killed off all six of Brown’s power plays that it faced. According to Fortino, the penalty killing unit’s agressiveness and good execution contributed to success.
“The amount of pressure in all three zones that we put on their power play was key, starting with our forecheck, and through the neutral zone our defenseman forced them to dump the puck in,” she said. “I think overall the key was being aggressive, not letting them set up, and we did a great job of that and blocking shots and getting the puck out.”
The Bulldogs struck first in Saturday’s contest when the Red failed to move the puck out from behind its net, and Yale cashed in on a loose puck. However, the Red took the lead five minutes into the second period with goals by junior forwards Brianne Jenner and Jessica Campbell just 19 seconds apart. Yale tied the game on a five-on-three power play a little over five minutes later. According to Fortino, the Red was not sufficiently careful in avoiding penalties.
“One thing we took away from that game is that we need to minimize our minutes in the penalty box,” she noted. “We need to be more disciplined and smart in those areas, and specifically with the stick infractions we need to be able to move our feet and not use our sticks so much. We do not to play physically, but staying in the lines of being smart, because its hard to have momentum when your shorthanded a lot.”
The Red tallied the game winner on a power play goal by Saulnier at the beginning of the third period.
“The puck went around and Jenner made a beautiful pass in the middle for me and I was able to finish it,” Saulnier explained. We had been working on that a lot in practice so it was nice to see.”
With these two victories under its belt, according to the sophomore forward, the Red is excited for the games that lie ahead.
“We have a strong team this year for sure, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season,” Saulnier said.