February 27, 2004

Women's Icers Need Wins for Playoffs

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If the season had started last weekend, the women’s hockey team would be in good position to start off the year undefeated. After collecting three points in a win and a tie over Findlay, the Red could elongate its meager unbeaten streak tonight in Schenectady, N.Y. as the squad takes on bottom-feeding Union in a two game series. Unfortunately for the embattled team, this is not the beginning but, rather, the very end of the season, and two wins this weekend are a necessity, not a luxury.

The Red (1-13-0, 5-17- 2 overall) currently rests in ninth place in the ECAC, two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with four league games remaining. Luckily for the Red, the final four opponents are just the teams any squad would want to play the most.

“Making the playoffs should be pretty easy,” head coach Melody Davidson said. “We need to win three of our next four games. The last game of the season against Vermont could turn out to be the game we need to get in the playoffs.”

The Catamounts occupy that coveted eighth seed, with games remaining against league powers Harvard, Brown, Colgate and the Red. Cornell, on the other hand, will be facing off against the cellar-dwellers, including the two contests this weekend at Union. Yet the less daunting schedule does not mean that Davidson and the rest of the Red will be simply coasting through these final contests.

With a scoring average of just over two goals per game, the Red’s offense will need to show some signs of life if the team hopes to advance significantly in the playoffs. Last weekend, freshman forward Halina Kristalyn provided a much-needed boost by notching two goals and an assist against Findlay, including the game-winner on Saturday.

“Generating offense is something we have been working on for the past couple weeks,” Davidson said. “We will continue to work on it in preparation for the Union games.”

Fortunately for the Red, Schenectady should provide the perfect shooting range for the offensively-challenged squad. The Dutchwomen (0-14- 0, 3-26- 1) have yet to win a league game and rank last in almost every conceivable statistical category, including the unenviable feat of allowing 67 second-period goals.

All totaled, Union is giving up an average of 6.1 goals per game, a figure that should make the mouths of the Red scorers water with anticipation.

“Everyone is expected to step up,” said Davidson. “Our scoring is fairly balanced — so in five on five situations we expect everyone to contribute.”

The Red has been getting key contributions from a number of sources, both expected and unexpected. Kristalyn, who was named the Tompkins Trust Co./Cornell Varsity Athlete of the Week this week, has netted eight goals on the season (tops on the squad) and ranks second on the team in scoring with 14 points. The Bloomfield, Ont. native has been complemented by another dynamic Canadian import, classmate Caroline Scott (six goals, two assists). Both newcomers have registered serious time on the Red’s special teams, another aspect Davidson hopes to tighten up down the home stretch.

“The special teams must be solid,” Davidson said. “We were 100% on penalty kill this past weekend and scored a power play goal in each game. That has to continue.”

The Dutchwomen are also led by two star underclassmen, freshman forwards Elise Nichols (12 goals, seven assists) and Kelly Lannan (four goals, eight assists).

Union’s troubles can be attributed to the relative youth of their program both off (women’s hockey was added as a varsity sport in 1999) and on the ice (the team boasts only four rostered juniors). Head coach Fred Quistgard is in his fifth season with the team.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen