The resurgent women’s hockey team will be put to the test this weekend as it plays host to two of the premier squads in the country. Cornell (8-14-0, 4-12-0 ECACHL) will be playing on its home ice for the first time since Jan. 14, as it entertains No. 9 Clarkson (19-8-1, 10-4-0 ECACHL) tonight and No. 3 St. Lawrence (22-3-2, 10-2-2 ECACHL) tomorrow afternoon. The Red has won three of its previous four contests and will look to avenge losses earlier in the season to both clubs.
Last weekend, the Red’s offense was firing on all cylinders as it defeated Union by a combined score of 10-3 over the two-game series. The Red put up over 100 shots on goal against the Dutchwomen en route to two invaluable league wins.
A playoff atmosphere has befallen the Red, as it vies for a bid to the ECACHL tournament. Cornell is currently tied for ninth place in the conference, as the top-8 make it to the postseason. With four conference games remaining, the Red is in a position where it needs ECACHL points.
“Right now, we are treating every game like it’s a playoff game,” said assistant coach Robert Burke. “Teams are jockeying for position and we are fighting for that final playoff spot.”
Clarkson comes to Ithaca boasting one of the top defenses in the country. Its 1.18 goals against average is ranked No. 1 in the nation and the team’s goaltender, junior Kira Hurley, has posted a .939 save percentage and a 1.11 goals against average in 26 starts this season. Hurley also leads the nation in shutouts, with nine. Furthermore, the Knights penalty-killing unit is also ranked No. 1 in the country with a 91.2 percent success rate. Offensively, Clarkson is ranked fourth in the conference with a 2.68 goals per game average. The Knights are lead by junior Ashley Shaidle, who has recorded 25 points so far this season (16 goals, 9 assists).
According to Burke, the keys to this weekend’s match-up are to limit their opportunities to few and far between and to exercise a lot of patience.
Saturday’s game between Cornell and St. Lawrence will be the 48th time the two teams have met, with the Saints holding a slight edge in the series, 24-21-2.
Offensively, the Saints are paced by sophomore Sabrina Harbec who leads the nation in points per game with 1.92 (18 G, 30 A). Second on the team in points is freshman Carson Duggan with 36 (24 G, 12 A). Duggan’s 24 goals are also tops in the country.
Between the pipes, the Saints have one of the top tandems in the country with sophomore Meaghan Guckian and senior Jessica Moffat. Guckian leads the country in goals against average (1.04) and is second in save percentage (.942), while Moffat has posted a 1.39 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.
“This is the second time we are playing these teams, so we know what to expect and shouldn’t have any surprises,” said assistant coach Diane Dillon. “We’ve been on a good roll lately and being back at Lynah will be an advantage.”
The Red will look to sophomore Beth Baronick to continue her stellar performances in goal of late. Two weeks ago, Baronick was awarded the ECACHL goaltender of the week, while last weekend, she recorded a .946 save percentage in almost 110 minutes of action.
Offensively, sophomore Caeleigh Beerworth leads the team in points (19) and assists (13), while classmate Brittany Forgues leads the team in goals (10) for the season.
On Saturday, the Red will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the collaboration between the Tompkins Girls Hockey Association and the Cub Club, comprised of members of the hockey team. The program provides mentoring and role models for the TGHA, the oldest girls hockey association in the state and one of the oldest in the country.
The celebration will include festivities during intermission and a reception following the game.