With the first game jitters out of the way and the adjustment to a new head coach with a new style already well into motion, the women’s hockey team will travel to face Niagara (1-4-1, 0-2-0 CHA) this weekend for a two-game series.
Last weekend, the Red opened its season at home against ECACHL rivals Yale and Brown. On Friday night, Cornell fell behind 4-0 to Yale in the third period. However, with five minutes remaining in the game, the Red began to mount a furious comeback, eventually pulling within two, before an empty net goal sealed the victory for the Bulldogs, 5-2. That game was the first for interim head coach Doug Derraugh ’91, who is filling in for Melody Davidson while she is away coaching the Canadian Olympic National Team.
On Saturday, Cornell’s offense was rolling before Brown switched goaltenders, stifling the Red attack for the remainder of the evening. Brown scored the eventual game-winner halfway through the third period and held on for a 3-2 victory.
Niagara is coming off a grueling weekend of its own, in which the team traveled to face three-time CHA defending champion No. 7 Mercyhurst. The Lakers swept the two-game series by scores of 3-0 and 5-2.
In Cornell’s two exhibition matches, it did not get much exposure to power play and penalty kill situations. However, last weekend the Red was 1-for-10 on the power play and 11-for-14 on the penalty kill, while spending an average of 16 minutes per game in the penalty box. Because of this, Derraugh was prompted to emphasize special teams in practice this past week.
“I changed the lineups around a little bit and continued working on certain systems – power play and penalty kill in particular,” Derraugh said.
Against Cornell, Niagara holds the all-time series by an 8-4-0 margin and has won the last six contests between the two squads. Last season, the Purple Eagles defeated the Red twice, both in Ithaca, by scores of 3-2 and 2-1. At Niagara’s home ice, Dwyer Arena, Cornell has posted just a 1-4 record.
Thus far this season, the Red has balanced the scoring load fairly evenly. Sophomore Caeleigh Beerworth is the lone player with two points (1 G, 1 A), while three players have scored one goal – senior assistant captain Vicki Hodgkinson and sophomores Miranda Callaghan and Lindsay Pegler. Additionally, three players have recorded one assist so far – sophomores Beth DiBella, Molly McDonald and Brianne Schmidt.
Having only been exposed to Derraugh’s system for about three weeks, the Red has been gradually learning the revised gameplan. These early games and practices are critical for team development and maturation.
“Right now we are focusing on developing the habits that would allow us to win throughout the season,” Derraugh said. “If we develop the right habits and have the right attitude and unity, that’s what will bring us further as a team.”
Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer