October 20, 2006

W. Hockey Set to Host Niagara

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Everyone knows about the success of the men’s hockey team on the East Hill. But unbeknownst to most Cornell sports fans, there is another team that plays at Lynah Rink that is aiming for a solid season. That team, the women’s hockey squad, will open its season with homes games tonight and tomorrow afternoon against Niagara.

Head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 has specific goals for his team.

“We are looking to get better every week, to come to practice and games mentally prepared,” Derraugh said. “Long term, I want to be a team that no one wants to play and a team that outworks every team that we play against. I would like to make the playoffs this year.”

The Red finished last season 9-18-1, going 5-15 in the ECACHL, but its record is deceptive. Derraugh, then interim coach, helped to turn the team around, culminating in the final game of the season in which Cornell tied then-No. 7 Mercyhurst. Other highlights of the season include a 4-3 victory over rival Harvard and a 3-1 victory over Brown. The team’s nine wins tripled its total from the 2004-2005 season. The Red hopes to ride the momentum of last season’s late success.

“Confidence-wise, it helps,” Derraugh said. “We have to remember why we did well at the end of the season, which was that we played as a team and continued to work hard.”

In the off-season, Derraugh was officially named head coach. Derraugh played in 119 games for Cornell from 1987-1991 and was a co-captain during his senior season. During that last season, Derraugh scored 30 goals and notched 36 assists. His 30 goals is a Cornell record for a senior and his 153 career points put him 10th on the Cornell all-time list. After graduating, Derraugh played professionally in Norway, Germany, Austria, and Finland.

One piece of good news for the Red as it begins its season is that the team returns almost all of its top scorers from last year. Junior forward Caeleigh Beerworth led Cornell with 21 points, recording six goals and a team-high 15 assists. Classmate Brittany Forgues led the team with 12 goals. Senior Halina Kristalyn notched 18 points and junior Brianne Schmidt scored 17. The Red will also return senior goaltender Beth Baronick, who started 16 games last season, posting a 3.13 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. Baronick split her time last year but looks to be the main goalie for the Red this season.

Despite the fact that the Red return most of its key players, Cornell is ranked ninth in the ECACHL preseason poll. Harvard and Dartmouth, which both return Olympians to their teams, are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the preseason poll.

Niagara (1-2-1) has the advantage of playing four games already this season. Two weekends ago, the Purple Eagles recorded a win and a tie in a two-game series against Colgate. So far this season, Niagara has received excellent play from freshman defenseman Alison Malty, who leads the team with four points. Junior forward Charde Hoyle-Levy leads the Purple Eagles with two goals. The Red will also have its hands full with senior goalie Allison Rutledge, who has posted a 2.67 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

“Niagara is off to a very good start and they are a good team,” Derraugh said. “They are very well-coached and they are very disciplined. Their senior goalie is very good and we are going to have to put the puck deep in their end and get a lot of shots to the net.”