December 5, 2008

W. Hockey Travels to Clarkson, St. Lawrence

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Snapping its three-game losing streak with last Sunday’s victory, the women’s hockey team (5-5-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) is trying to regain its momentum heading out on the road to face Clarkson today and St. Lawrence tomorrow.
“Every game in the league this year has been tough and this weekend is certainly no exception. St. Lawrence and Clarkson are in the top-10 right now,” said assistant coach Danielle Bilodeau ’01. “They are both teams that can beat anyone in the country; very disciplined teams with a lot of talent.”
Today’s match against Clarkson (8-5-3, 4-1-1) is going to be a tough test for the Red from the start. With a six game winning streak under their belt, the Golden Knights are preparing to maintain their edge, while the Red will try and improve its 2-2 record on the road.
Clarkson senior Marie-Jo Gaudet leads the offense and ECAC conference with 23 points from 10 goals and 13 assists, with freshman Juana Baribeau closely behind with 21 points.
“Clarkson is a hard working team but if we stick to our game plan and continue to play with each other and keep our feet moving to stay out of the [penalty] box, then I know we can win,” said senior forward Brianne Gilbert.
With penalties being a recurring theme, this week in practice, the Red has been working on its special teams, consisting of its power play technique and penalty kill.
“For this weekend’s games we’re focusing a lot on the power play and penalty kill in practice,” said sophomore goaltender Katie Wilson. “We capitalized on the power play against Niagara, which led us to a win, so we’re working on strengthening those areas.”
This weekend, however, the Red is going to face some extremely disciplined teams. Clarkson, for one, is a team that doesn’t make many mistakes. The Golden Knights are usually ranked last in the league in terms of number of penalties, so the Red will have to really capitalize offensively on any power play opportunities.
“We’re going to need to be disciplined on the penalty kill this weekend. Clarkson has done very well on the power play as well, so we need to say out of the box and be prepared to kill off the full minutes,” Bilodeau said.
Cornell will continue its travels through North Country, as it will face St. Lawrence tomorrow The Saints (10-2-2, 5-1-0) have won their past three games, so the Red is hoping to undermine their momentum early on in the game.
“St. Lawrence has always been a tough contender, although if the team comes together and plays with the intensity we did this past Sunday, we can definitely expect a win,” Wilson said. “The number of penalties we have been taking per game has been detrimental for us, so if we play smart and focus on the job at hand we’ll be successful.”
It is with this energy that Cornell hopes to combat St. Lawrence’s offensive talent, which has been known to break down teams defensively. This strength aided the Saints to become ranked No. 3 in the USCHO poll. Senior Carson Duggan notched 18 points from her 12 goals and six assists and junior Tara Akstull is nearby with 16 points.
“We have to be very disciplined, stick-on-stick, body-on-body,” Bilodeau said. “Awareness defensively is going to be very important against St. Lawrence.”
Over winter break, Cornell will have two practices a day to improve its skills and technique, while concurrently strengthening the team bond. Tied for sixth place in ECAC conference standings, the Red is hoping to gain two road victories and improve its overall record as its closes out its last matches of the semester.
“We have to play our game, go as hard as we can, and do what we know how to do and then we should definitely be able to pull it off,” Gilbert said. “I think we’ll be able to pull two games this weekend. I know we can win both.”