November 14, 2008

W. Hockey Works On Defensive Unit

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Trying to redeem itself after last weekend’s loss to Princeton and tie with Quinnipiac, the women’s hockey team is continuing on with its ECAC season as it hosts a double feature this weekend — playing Brown tonight and Yale on Saturday.
“I think we’re going to come out and play a strong game and really prove ourselves to the team this weekend,” said sophomore forward Katie Bredice.
[img_assist|nid=33592|title=Gotcha!|desc=Sophomore goalie Kayla Strong blocks a shot during the Red’s 2-2 tie over ECAC Hockey rival Qinnipiac at Lynah Rink on Nov. 8.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Although the Red (2-2-1, 0-1-1 ECAC Hockey) had a strong start early in the season, a combination of factors — including numerous penalties — caused Cornell to lose its momentum. This week in practice, the squad has worked on improving its defensive unit and cutting down on penalties.
“[In practice] we do 3-on-3,” said freshman defender Ashley Duff. “… We’re working on playing defensively but not taking as many penalties, which should help us.”
Despite missing three matches to play on Canada’s national team, sophomore Rebecca Johnston leads the Red in total points. Junior forward Liz Zorn has the same number of goals as Johnston, 4, all from power play opportunities.
While confident, Red players know the difficulties presented by the two Ivy League rivals.
“Brown and Yale have both been very tough, hard nosed competition in the past and we expect the same from them this weekend,” said assistant coach Danielle Bilodeau ’01.
In last season’s competition against Brown, Cornell was able to come away with a tie only after scoring a goal with two seconds remaining.
In addition, the Bears’ senior goalie Nicole Stock made an impressive 50 saves, showing her ability to hold off the Red’s offense.
“Brown has outstanding goaltending and a competitive edge reflective of their Head Coach Digit Murphy,” Bilodeau said. “[We know] that if we don’t come prepared with our best effort the result will not be what we want.”
The Red will have to stay focuses next day as well, when it faces the Bulldogs (2-3-0, 2-2-0).
The Red is going to rely heavily on its goaltenders, junior Jenny Niesluchowski, who has a .893 save percentage and a 3.0 goals-against average and sophomore Kayla Strong, with a .936 save percentage and 1.44 goals-against average, in order to stop the Bulldogs’ offensive lines and tireless attack.
“To beat them we are going to have to be tough possessing the puck all over the ice, but especially on our break outs,” Bilodeau said. “[We also must be] very disciplined and tough in our defensive zone.”
The Red is hoping to capitalize on its home ice advantage before heading on the road next weekend.
“I think we’re going to have a lot better results than we did last weekend,” Duff said. “… We are just going to keep our feet moving and that should help us stay out of the [penalty] box.”