The women’s ice hockey team, laden with injuries and struggling through a period of inconsistency, went 4-5-1 over the winter break.
Despite the record, there were sparks of excitement and many notable performances throughout the team’s six weeks of competition, including two wins over non-conference opponents Findlay and Ohio State.
Just before final exams last semester, the team faced Ivy League foes Harvard and Brown. Cornell lost to the Crimson by a margin of 3-1, but it was an exciting day for sophomore goalie Liz Connelly. She recorded 27 saves against Harvard before a concussion would take her out of the season permanently. This would boost her into fifth place on the all-time saves list at Cornell. Over her two-year career, she has stopped 813 pucks.
Next, the second-ranked Brown Bears visited Lynah Rink and an overtime battle ensued that no one was expecting. After the opening period, the Red either led or was tied with Brown until the match ended in a 5-5 draw in extra time.
The Bears jumped out and scored at the 24-second mark, but the Red held steady and answered back at 13:16 when senior co-captain Trish Kemp scored an unassisted goal.
In the middle period, the Red scored first as freshman forward Bri Jentner found the net with assists from junior assistant captain Jenel Bode and junior defenseman Eva Nahorniak. The Bears then returned a goal, but the Red bounced back three minutes later when sophomore forward Erin Ellis netted a goal with assists coming from Bode and Jentner.
The back-and-forth exchange continued in the final period as senior forward Erica Olson and freshman forward Ali Simpson each scored, but the Red’s offense was not enough as the regulation and overtime minutes ended with a tied score.
About four weeks later, after the players were allowed a short hiatus to visit friends and family at home for the holidays, the Big Red jumped into action against Findlay and Ohio State.
Against Findlay, the Red’s forwards and blue liners displayed offensive finesse as Cornell downed the Oilers 3-1. Big Red defenders contributed to all three goals as sophomore defenseman Brooke Bestwick and Trish Kemp hit the net and junior Dianna Bell tallied an assist on Simpson’s goal in the middle stanza.
Also, sophomore goalie Kristen Perry, a rookie from Ithaca, N.Y., received her first collegiate win against the Oilers and she finished with 18 saves.
The next day, the Big Red faced a talented Ohio State squad and, once again, showed some amazing offensive action to beat the Buckeyes 5-3 and increase its overall winning percentage.
“I think we played very well against Ohio State. They had very good players and we just stuck it to them, which was great,” head coach Carol Mullins commented on her team’s performance.
A lot of the action came from one Cornellian – Erica Olson. Earning her second career hat trick, Olson also scored a career high five points.
Brooke Bestwick contributed to the offense with a career high three assists and sophomore forward Lindsay Murao had two assists.
Unfortunately for Cornell, after these great wins, the Red experienced a slight lull in competition, losing three out of its next four ECAC games.
“We were up and down – very sporadic. It didn’t help to lose some of our key players, but we played very well against Brown and Harvard. We just didn’t play complete games,” said Mullins.
Cornell first lost to Brown in a close 3-2 decision, but the game was highlighted as junior forward Sarah Olivier went 1-1-2 on the day.
Facing Harvard for the second time, the Red came out ready to play. In fact, Cornell held a 3-2 advantage heading into the final period thanks to two Olson goals and one point from Murao, but the Crimson was relentless and scored three goals to finish with the win.
Sophomore goalie Sanya Sandahl had 35 saves in the match and Olson continued her offensive streak, but it wasn’t enough to top the Crimson.
Bouncing back, as Cornell faced Yale, it tallied a win to increase the all-time record to 38-1 over the Elis. The Big Red jumped ahead in the opening minutes as Olivier and freshman forward Bri Jentner lit the lamp. Also, a few seconds before the buzzer would ring, Erin Ellis scored an empty net goal to end the game with a score of 3-1.
Sandahl stopped 24 pucks, moving her into tenth place on the all-time saves list. She now has a total of 352 saves in collegiate play.
In New Jersey, it was a different story as the Red lacked the offensive spark it needed to pull off a win. Although Cornell scored first with Bode’s unassisted short-handed goal, the Red could not produce any more points and allowed three Princeton goals in the final periods.
The team would play two more games before the beginning of the spring semester in the High Peaks Classic, and it was a great way to end the break with some exciting hockey.
“I think the players are playing and skating pretty hard, but we need to work defensively and produce more goals and that is what we are really working on right now. We saw some really good things over the break and I think we’re really starting to pull together as a team,” Mullins said of the team’s achievements.
With ten games remaining, the Red is still very optimistic about its chances for the playoffs.
Of the road ahead, Mullins commented: “It is not going to be easy. There are a few games that we need to win and there are a few teams that we need to surprise, but the season is certainly not over for us.”
Archived article by Kelli Larsen