November 9, 2007

Women’s Hockey Aims for Last Year’s Win Total

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At Cornell, the number four is usually associated with one thing — G.P.A. However, as the women’s ice hockey team puts on the pads tonight, the importance of the number four takes center ice. A victory tonight would be its fourth of the early season, but more important is the fact that it would also match last year’s total number of wins for the entire season.
Tonight at 7 p.m. Cornell will play host to the first place Yale Bulldogs (2-0-1) in its first of two home games this weekend against Ivy League foes. The action resumes at Lynah Rink tomorrow afternoon as the Red gets set to take on Brown (1-3-0) with face-off scheduled for 4 p.m.
Cornell did not fare well against the Bulldogs last season losing both contests by more than three goals. Therefore, Cornell has some added incentive to return the favor to Yale tonight.
“As a team, we’re always seeking respect for ourselves,” said junior defender Steph Ulrich. “It’s been kind of hard to overcome the [poor play of the] past that we’ve had. We’re just always trying to gain respect from other teams that we play. It doesn’t come easy. It’s just something you have to earn.
As any head coach will tell you, no victory comes easy
“Yale has really good team speed,” said head coach Doug Derraugh. “They’re very aggressive on the forecheck. They pressure you well and actually take away time and space. We have to be able to break their fore check. That will be goal No. 1. No. 2, on our side of things, we have to do a better job of staying out of the penalty box this weekend. That’s been a problem of ours the last couple of weeks. They’re a good club overall. They have two goaltenders, who have the best goals against average in the league between the two of them. They’ve both been great for them. We’re going to have to make sure we get lost of shots on them and that we’re getting players in front of the goalies.”
Freshman Jackee Snikeris and senior Shivon Zilis have both shared time in net for Yale this season with Snikeris earning a 0.92 GAA and Zilis trailing slightly at 1.00.
Cornell senior co-captain Caeleigh Beerworth emphasized the importance of battering the Bulldogs backline with a constant barrage of shots.
“Last weekend against Niagara, we were very successful in shooting the puck, driving to the net and creating a lot of offensive opportunities,” Beerworth said. “It’s going to be extremely important this weekend that we continue to do that. We’ve really been working on that this week and trying to keep it going.”
Tomorrow afternoon Cornell will move up the animal food chain in terms of competition, transitioning from the Yale Bulldogs to the Brown Bears.
“They’re [Brown’s] definitely a very different team than Yale, but they’re also very well coached,” said assistant coach Danielle Bilodeau. “Those kids are always ready to play. They’re a pretty passionate group.”
After holding on to a narrow, 3-2, victory over Brown last October, the Red was shutout, 3-0, in the final head-to-head battle last season.
“Brown, as always, is a hardworking team,” Derraugh said. “They’re a team that really battles hard and is strong in front of both nets. You know that they’re always going to be prepared to play hard. They just came off a great game against the University of Connecticut, who is ranked in the top-10 in the country. Brown was actually leading going into it, but gave up a late goal and wound up losing in overtime. It looked like they should have won that game actually. They have been playing really strong as of late.”
Although Derraugh has not shown the team any tape of Brown yet, Beerworth knows what to expect in her fourth year and as a co-captain.
“They’re always a very strong program,” she said. “Again, the biggest, most important thing is that we are more disciplined, don’t take penalties and take advantage of any opportunities.”
For the Red, opportunity is the key word. Last year it failed to capitalize on opportunities, but this year it is a different story as the squad attempts to tie last year’s win total with over three-quarters of the regular season left to play.