February 6, 2004

W. Icers Face ECAC Powerhouses

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“Oh Captain! My captain! Rise up and hear the bells!” Walt Whitman’s historic eulogy for a lost leader may resonate with the women’s hockey team this weekend, as it has been without dynamic head coach Melody Davidson for the last few practices. Yet, unlike the deceased captain in Whitman’s oratory, Davidson will be back to coach the Red in two of its most crucial games of the season tonight and tomorrow, as the team plays host to Brown and No. 3 Harvard.

The bells Davidson and the team most hope to hear? Those would be the final buzzers in both games, announcing victories for the underdog Red.

“As a team, we are committed to the fact that we have something to prove to the league,” senior forward Anita Khar said. “We can compete with any team in the country as long as we don’t deviate from our system. It is going to be a fight.”

Davidson was traveling with the Canadian Women’s Under-22 team as a mentor coach for the 2004 European Air Canada Cup held in Germany this week, having been cleared by Athletic Director Andy Noel to do so earlier in the season. The tournament is being held from Feb. 5-7, but Davidson will return to the helm of the Red for tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup against the Bears. Davidson was formerly the head coach for the U-22 team during the 1998-99 season, and has retained responsibilities and ties with the national squad ever since.

Despite the brief absence of their own mentor, Cornell’s players insist that the team has not missed a beat.

“We have great deal of trust in our assistant coaches,” senior forward Briana Jentner said. “We love having [Davidson] around, but we’re all very excited for her opportunity to be with the national team. And we know Diane [Dillon] and Rob [Burke] will do a great job.”

No matter who is behind the bench for tonight and tomorrow’s contests, every member of the Red hopes to bring a little magic and a little luck into these critical ivy League games. Brown (10-5-2, 6-1-1 ECAC) currently sits in third place in the ECAC and is coming off a weekend sweep of Princeton and Yale on the road. The Bears have also been racking up a number of national and league-wide awards as of late, with senior goaltender Katie Germain (2.61 GAA, .890 save percentage) earning both USCHO.com and ECAC Player of the Week honors, and junior forward Jessica Link (14 goals, 10 assists) being named ECAC co-player of the week.

“We’ve been calling Brown a blender team,” said Jentner. “They are very quick and very physical. We need to be gritty and play positional hockey.”

Last time out, the Red fell to the Bears 8-1 in Providence, R.I.

“We need to redeem to ourselves what we know we can do against Brown,” Jentner added.

The No. 3 Crimson will also be visiting ithaca this weekend, set to take on the Red tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Lynah Rink. Harvard has been in a bit of a slide recently, having dropped two of its last three games. Yet with big gun forwards like sophomore Julie Chu (8 goals, 17 assists) and junior Nicole Corriero (ECAC-leading 25 goals, 18 assists) and offensive-minded defenseman Angela Ruggiero (12 goals, 15 assists, to lead all ECAC blue liners), the Red knows it will be in for a challenge.

“We know we can play with [Harvard],” said Jentner. “We just need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. They will capitalize on any little mental lapses we make.”

Again, the Red was not treated with mercy by the Crimson in their last contest, a Dec. 5 shootout that Harvard ran away with, 8-3. Corriero, who has compiled an unheard of 2.39 points per game average, racked up three points in the game in Boston. Nevertheless, the Red feels confident that its strengths will ultimately overcome the weaknesses of the Beantowners tomorrow afternoon.

“Unlike Harvard, we have more than one line that can put the puck in the net,” Khar said. “Our team is very spread out offensively.”

Jen Munhofen, the Red’s sensational sophomore, continues to lead the squad in scoring with five goals and 10 assists on the season. Junior Pearle Nerenberg has also added consistent offensive contributions, notching five goals and eight assists on her way to a 0.72 points per game scoring average.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen