February 15, 2008

W. Hockey Motivated to Sweep Road Contests

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In the midst of a three-game losing skid, the women’s hockey team has a couple of road games on tap for this weekend with serious playoff implications. Currently, the Red is sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECAC Hockey League. With weekend games slated against Union and Rensselaer, the Red needs some wins to shore up its playoff chances.
After two disappointing losses last weekend against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, the Red now sits just one point ahead of Rensselaer in the ECAC Hockey standings. Junior defenseman Steph Ulrich explained that those two losses have fueled the Red and have reminded the team of the importance of staying focused.
[img_assist|nid=27826|title=Look out|desc=Freshman forward Karlee Overguard digs the puck out of the corner in a tight loss to Colgate, 2-1, two weeks ago. Tonight, the Red hope to end a three-game losing skid.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“After last weekend’s games we decided that we wanted to be really disciplined in practice this week and really focused and intense to help us prepare for these games right away starting in Monday’s practice,” Ulrich said. “We are all just trying to really control our focus and to make sure that we are always on top of what we’re doing and trying to make the right decisions at every single second and not just going through the motions.”
The importance of these games is not lost on the players. Senior co-captain Brittany Forgues noted that although the Red is aware of the playoff implications of these games, they are not letting it control their preparation.
“We know they are really important and we see the standings every week so you know it’s there, but I don’t think that it’s overtaking us,” Forgues said. “We just want to go out there and make sure we play our own game and do the things that we do really well. We all know they’re important but you can’t get too stressed out about it.”
Today, the Red travels to Union to face off against a last-place Dutchwomen squad that is winless in ECAC Hockey. Cornell hosted Union at Lynah on Jan. 12 in a game that saw the Red come out on top, 3-0. Nevertheless, the Red is not taking anything for granted heading into this weekend.
“We do take one game at a time,” Forgues said. “Although Union’s record is not the greatest, they are still a great team and are improving every week. We definitely do not overlook that game. They will still fight to the finish just like we did when we were in that position two years ago. … We are giving each team the credit they deserve.”
Cornell will then travel from Schenectady to Troy, N.Y. for a tilt tomorrow against Rensselaer. Of the two, this game has the most direct impact on the Red’s playoff chances, as Rensselaer is looking to overtake the Red for the final playoff spot. Earlier in the season at Lynah, the Red lost a tightly contested match-up against the Engineers by a score of 4-3 in a game that saw Cornell squander a two-goal lead.
The Red players are fired up for tomorrow’s contest and have been working hard in practice getting ready for both of the weekend’s games. The players explained that though practices this week have remained the same as during the rest of the season, the intensity has been picked up.
“We always try and prepare the same way. We go into the weekend knowing that these are two very important games for us that we pretty much have to win in order to be sure that we are going to make the playoffs in two weeks,” said sophomore forward Liz Zorn. “We are just trying to make sure that we are ready to play at the beginning of the game and that we are ready to play a full 60 minutes of hockey.”
Specifically, Ulrich explained that the Red are looking to improve their defensive coverage and their special teams.
“We are always looking to improve our defensive zone and that’s something we have struggled with a lot this year. We are looking to capitalize on our power-play chances and to make sure that we shut them down on their power plays, so we have been working on penalty kills this week too.”
With only four games remaining in the regular season, this weekend is poised to be crucial in determining Cornell’s fate. Forgues explains that the team is looking to take advantage of the chance that is has before them.
“Everybody’s really excited. It’s a really big opportunity for us,” Forgues said. “As a senior, we have never been in this position before. We have never even been close to clinching a playoff spot, so it’s definitely very exciting for us. They all know exactly what this weekend means. I am very confident in our team and I have no worries about this weekend. I think everybody’s going to step up and just do what we have to do to win these games.”