January 19, 2009

W. Hockey Earns Home Sweep

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The women’s hockey team earned four points on its home ice this weekend, successfully defeating Union, 3-0, and Rensselaer, 3-2.
On Friday, the Red (9-8-2, 5-5-2 ECAC Hockey) notched a shutout win over Union (2-18-3, 0-10-1). Cornell was able to create in the offensive end, outshooting the Dutchwomen 50-19.
“I think we came together really well this weekend especially,” said junior forward Melanie Jue. “We moved the puck well, really well actually against Union and we used our speed against them, because they’re a bit of a slower team.”
Jue lead the way in scoring for the Red, delivering two goals and one assist in the match.
After a scoreless first period, Cornell utilized a man advantage halfway through the second when Jue scored off of assists from forward freshman Catherine White and junior Liz Zorn. [img_assist|nid=34183|title=Marvelous Melanie|desc=Junior forward Melanie Jue scored two goals and added an assist in the Red’s win over  Union.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“My teammates did a really good job around me to get the puck to me,” Jue said. “It was a team effort because the forwards in front of me were screening the goalie really well, so there was no way it would have scored if they didn’t get in the way.”
Jue scored again in the third period, sending a slap shot through a group of Union defenders and past the Dutchwomen’s goaltender Lundy Day.
Just a minute after scoring its second goal, the Red increased its lead to 3-0. Sophomore Rebecca Johnston netted the goal on a power play.
The Red made good use of its power play opportunities throughout the game, converting two-of-three chances, and killing Union’s five opportunities.
In making 19 saves for the Red, junior goalkeeper Jenny Niesluchowski accomplished her first shutout of the season, and the fourth of her career. Niesluchowski, however, modestly gave credit to her defense’s effort.
“They really limited the shots — I only had 19 and they were all really easy to see,” Niesluchowski said. “They did a good job of keeping the shots to the outside. There were hardly any rebounds, and the ones that I did give up, my defense cleared away pretty quickly. They really made my job easy.”
Cornell was prepared and successful with its strategy because the team anticipated the way the Dutchwomen would act on the ice.
“We did a really good job of adjusting to Union’s style of play,” Niesluchowski said. “They seem to play a more defensive game. They kind of play really tight in front of their net.”
Niesluchowski was again solid in goal during Saturday’s matchup against Rensselaer (11-9-3, 6-4-2). She made 43 saves for Cornell to help bring the Red to a 3-2 win over the Engineers.
“We did a good job … transitioning to RPI’s style [after playing Union], which was definitely a quicker game,” said Niesluchowski. “It was a tough start in the beginning, but we definitely got a handle on it as the game progressed.”
The Red took the lead early in the first period, after sophomore Karlee Overguard managed to catch her own rebound off of RPI goalie Sonja van der Bliek and send the puck into the net.
After a hooking call to RPI, Cornell took advantage of the power play to score a second goal midway through the first period. Amber Overguard netted the goal with assists from Karlee Overguard and freshman Jess Martino.
The Engineer’s Alisa Harrison scored the team’s first goal minutes into the second period. Following the RPI goal, Cornell held onto its lead throughout the second as Niesluchowski blocked 14 shots from the Engineers.
Cornell then upped its lead in the third period with a goal by Catherine White.
With just over three minutes remaining in the game, RPI notched its second goal, this one from Jill Vandegrift. Yet the Engineers failed to surpass the Red’s scoring advantage. Even when the Engineers pulled their goalie in the final minutes, their hopes were in vain and the game ended with the Red on top.
As Cornell continues its season, the team continues to make improvements.
“We’re missing a few players, so we have to go in and really play as a team” White said. “As of now, all these games to us are basically playoff games. We’re playing for a spot and we just want to have a good finish, so basically we just need to clean up our “D” zone, and just forecheck well.”
The Red’s weekend sweep is evidence that the team is on its way to getting to the playoffs for a second year in a row.
“In the dressing room and on the ice it’s showing that we’re gelling and we’re coming together,” Jue said. “Everyone is playing for each other. There’re a lot of little things that we still need to work on, but in general they’re just minor details and as we keep going through we’re going to work those minor kinks out and we’re going to be ready for playoff time.”