In classical Greece, Aristotle proclaimed, “hope is a waking dream.” For the women’s hockey team at Cornell in contemporary times, that dream is something it wishes would become reality.
Despite its 2-14-0 ECAC record (6-18- 2 overall), the Red is holding out hope that it can still clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the league this weekend. Standing in its way are the veritable Jekyll and Hyde of women’s hockey teams: lowly Vermont (2-14-0, 6-24- 2) on Sunday and No.2 Dartmouth (12- 3- 1, 20- 5- 2) on Saturday.
Yet for head coach Melody Davidson and the rest of the squad, these final two home games will be just another challenge that must be overcome.
“I expect our players to step it up even higher this weekend,” Davidson said. “Not only is it the last home games for the seniors – there is something on the line.”
The Red can assure itself a spot in the postseason under a variety of scenarios, the most obvious of which would be to win both games this weekend. Currently, Cornell is tied for eighth place with Vermont , so if both teams drop their first games of the weekend (the Red is taking on the Green while the Catamounts are on the road against the Colgate Raiders), Sunday’s showdown will essentially become a battle for a playoff spot.
With the season on the line for the Red and the possible culmination of the seniors’ careers looming ahead, the women are committed to pushing the pressures out of their minds and focusing on what it will take to come out of the weekend with four points.
“The game against Dartmouth will be a tough battle and I expect us to take them right to the buzzer,” said Davidson. “Against Vermont, we have to come out firing on all cylinders – they have a good goaltender and we are going to have to find a way to score.”
The Red lost a crucial part of its scoring touch two weeks ago when sophomore forward Andrea Skinner went down with an injury during the Feb. 20 tie with Findlay. The Markham, Ont. native was a critical component of the Red’s special teams, having notched three power play goals and five goals overall in 23 games this season. Skinner has not been cleared to play this weekend.
“Losing [Skinner] has been tough,” said Davidson . “She is a strong physical forward that controls the boards offensively.”
Yet, having dealt with a shortened bench and injuries all season, this setback should not phase the battle-hardened Red. Instead, Davidson expects the four seniors to continue their leadership roles as they step out onto Lynah rink for the last time.
“We have been very happy with the leadership by all the classes,” Davidson said. “This team has taken everything I can throw at them and put forth their best every shift.”
Senior forwards Sarah Carter, Briana Jentner and Anita Khar fit into their roles as veteran leaders with skill and poise, setting examples both on and off the ice. Carter, who hails from Erie, Penn., played significant minutes in all 26 games this season and added three assists, giving her a career total of one goal and four assists. Jentner (Akron, Ohio) has struck fear into the hearts of opposing goaltenders for the past four years, finding the back of the net 17 times, including two goals this season. Khar will also be remembered as a consistent scoring threat, having notched three goals and seven assists this season. The Stamford, Connecticut native also has registered 32 career points.
Cornell will also be losing a key blue liner this season in senior defenseman Allison Simpson. Simpson will be sorely missed on the Red’s power play, where she was known for her uncanny ability to control the puck and put shots on goal. Simpson currently has two power play goals on the season, and 20 career points in 109 games.
This weekend, the Red hopes to reverse its fortunes against national powerhouse Dartmouth, which handed Cornell a 5-0 setback on Jan. 24 in Hanover, N.H. Conversely, the team is looking to continue its dominance over Vermont, against whom the Red earned its first conference win of the season on Jan. 23 in Burlington. In that game, sophomore Jen Munhofen led the squad to a 3-1 win over the Catamounts.
Should the Red make the playoffs, the 2004 ECAC Championship tournament will be held at the Achilles Center in Schenectady, N.Y., Mar. 20-21.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen