The Cornell women’s ice hockey team proved that it could rough it up with the best of them by splitting games this weekend against Niagara University at Dyer Arena.
Having led the country in penalties last year, Niagara “set the tone in the first five minutes [of Friday’s game],” commented senior co-captain Danielle Bilodeau.
In a physical contest, the Red dropped a hard fought battle 3-2 in a game that was decided with two minutes remaining in the third period on a power play goal.
After a scoreless first period, Bilodeau put the Red on the scoreboard off a pass from sophomore Brooke Bestwick at 11:22 in the second. This lead was not to hold though, as Niagara’s Candice Ceelen beat Cornell goal keeper Liz Connelly seven minutes later.
Then just as quickly as the lead was lost, it was regained 2:38 into the third period by junior Sarah Olivier off a pass from classmate Dianna Bell giving the Red a 2-1 lead.
Niagara however refused to be kept down as Ceelen once again found the back of the net again, this time on a power play at 6:42.
“It was one of those roller coaster games,” commented head coach Carol Mullins. “The momentum kept shifting.”
Playing even for the rest of the period, it was the continual trips to the penalty box that cost Cornell. Trying to beat Niagara at it’s own game, the Red found itself serving 16 minutes in the box, eight of which came in the third period. During the last four seconds of Cornell’s final penalty, Niagara’s Brooke Bradburn scored the winner with just a minute and a half left in regulation.
Making a strong showing and truly keeping the Red in the game was Connelly who recorded 36 saves.
“We had chances to win,” Mullins recognized. But the Red was just unable to capitalize and was forced to go home with a loss and regroup for game two on Saturday.
Having set a team goal, the Red determined that it refused to lose a rematch to any team. Keeping with this promise, Cornell pulled out the victory 2-1 over Niagara, the now familiar foe.
Playing a scoreless first period, Purple Eagle’s Linda Groff put Niagara on the board first at 1:35 in the second period leaving the Red to play catch up.
Catch up the Red did, with the freshman class leading the way. Briana Jentner scored first off a pass from Bilodeau with under a minute to play in the period to even the score.
Showing “freshman power,” it was classmate Anita Khar who scored the game winner just a minute and a half into the third period. Assists were rewarded to junior Lillian Shaller and Olivier.
Cornell was then forced to fend of Niagara’s attacks for the next 18 minutes of play to earn the win.
The victory can be attributed to strong play especially in the final period.
“The defense really stepped up,” commented Bilodeau. “Sanya played a great game, [and] made some really big saves.”
Connelly had made 14 saves before she suffered a concussion in the second period, forcing her to retire from the game early. Reserve keeper Sanya Sandahl came in and played a fine game recording 13 saves in her 27 minutes of play.
“Sanya played really well coming off the bench,” acknowledged Mullins of her backup keeper.
The Red will return to the ice this weekend playing Providence on Friday and Northeastern Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m. at Lynah Rink.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss