February 16, 2007

Women’s Hockey Prepares for Final Games of Season

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At the conclusion of a disappointing season, the women’s hockey team might be able to enjoy a small consolation this weekend — two wins would match its five ECACHL wins from last year. A pair of wins will not be easy, though, as Cornell will go on the road to batlle Quinnipiac and Princeton.

“It is always good when you get an opportunity to play a high-ranked team, both in our league and national” said junior assistant captain Caeleigh Beerworth. “We have absolutely nothing to lose, so it is a great opportunity for us.”

Quinnipiac (8-22-2, 5-14-1 ECACHL) will play the fourth-ever women’s hockey game in its new TD Banknorth Sports Center tonight when it hosts Cornell (3-21-2, 3-15-1). The Bobcats had been playing in Northford, Conn. before the new arena opened on Jan. 27.
[img_assist|nid=21437|title=Pass to me|desc=Freshman Laura Danforth (14) gets ready to pass the puck during Cornell’s 9-1 loss to Harvard at Lynah Rink last Friday night.|link=none|align=left|width=80|height=100]
“I am sure they are excited about the new rink, and it will be interesting to see that, but I think that [Quinnipiac] is a team that we should be able to compete with,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “It should be a close game.”

Quinnipiac is led by a group of sophomores, including Hayley McMeekin, who leads the team with 13 goals, 15 assists and 28 total points. The forward has a chance to break the single-season school record for all three categories; she has tied the assist record and is one away from the goal and point records. Classmate Jennifer MacLean also has put up a solid season, recording 21 points. In addition, Elyse Cole is third on the team with 18 points, with the forward having also netted 12 goals on the year.

In goal, senior Laura Brennan, in her first year at Quinnipiac after transferring from Minnesota State, has started 26 games on the season. She has recorded a 4.18 and a .859 save percentage.

In November, Quinnipiac edged Cornell by a score of 4-3. In that game, the Red could not capitalize on late goals by junior forward Brianne Schmidt and senior Halina Kristalyn. Sophomore Emma Chipman also scored for Cornell.

“We got off to a bad start [against Quinnipiac],” Derraugh said. “They got up a few goals then we scored a few goals on them. I thought we had a lot of opportunities to score against them, but we didn’t make the best of them, and that cost us.”

Tomorrow afternoon, Cornell has the opportunity to play spoiler against Princeton (14-10-3, 12-6-2) in its final game of the season. The Tigers currently sit in fifth place in the ECACHL. Princeton’s main weapon is senior Kim Pearce, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and a first team All-ECACHL selection last season. This year, she leads the team with 14 goals, 17 assists and 31 total points.

“Kim Pearce is an Olympic-caliber player,” Derraugh said. “She can win a game on her own if you give her a lot of room.”

Cornell will also have to contain Princeton junior Marykate Oakley, who is second on the team in every major offensive category, with 13 goals, 14 assists and 27 points. The Tigers also boast senior Laura Watt, who ranks third in the ECACHL among defensemen with 21 points.

Between the pipes, Princeton usually relies on sophomore Kristen Young, who has put up a 2.30 goals against average and a .911 save percentage this year. While Young has made 18 starts, freshman Brittany Parisi has made nine. The rookie netminder has put up a 2.17 goals against average and a .904 save percentage on the year.

Earlier in the season, Princeton edged Cornell by a score of 2-1. In that game, Pearce netted the Tigers’ lone goal. The Red seemed to tie the game with less than 2 minutes remaining in the final period, but sophomore Steph Ulrich’s goal was waived off because a Cornell player was in the crease. Freshman goaltender Jenny Niesluchowski made 29 saves in the loss.

“I thought that we played one of our better games [against Princeton] but they outshot us,” Derraugh said. “That was a good game … so hopefully we can have another one of those.”

With the two games, Cornell will try and snap a five-game winless streak. It will try and rebound after losing last weekend by scores of 9-1 and 7-0 to Harvard and Dartmouth, respectively.

“Everyone was pretty down about [last weekend],” Beerworth said. “I think any team would be, but at this point, all we can do is keep working hard, keep going and keep playing the best we can over our upcoming games.”