February 16, 2009

Women’s Hockey Ties Dartmouth for Playoff Berth

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Playing its last two home games of the season, the women’s hockey team (11-11-5, 7-8-5 ECAC) skated to a disappointing loss against Harvard on Friday, 5-2, before tying Dartmouth, 3-3, on Saturday. The Red showed its offensive prowess in the Dartmouth game, blocking the No. 8 Green from a spot in the playoffs.
On Friday, the Red started off with three power play opportunities against the Crimson (14-4-2, 15-8-3 ECAC). Harvard was able to thwart all of Cornell’s attempts to get on the board early in the game. After a scoreless first period, the Crimson netted the first goal of the night when it capitalized on a rebound in the red zone and put the puck past freshman goalie Amanda Mazzotta.
Following its 1-0 deficit, the Red knew it would have to improve offensively in order to have a chance of halting the Crimson in the third period. From the first faceoff, the Red demonstrated its ferocity to tie the game as sophomore Karlee Overgaurd attempted a slapshot from the faceoff, before it hit the pipes on the Harvard end before being smothered by the Crimson goaltender.
Just 0:30 later, sophomore Rebecca Johnston tied the game, 1-1, after she netted her first goal of the game. Freshman forward Catherine White won the face-off and slid the puck to Johnston who skated to the left side of the goal.
At 6:49 Harvard regained the lead, 2-1, and went a three-goal run in the span of 10:00. With 2:30 left in the game, Johnston netted her second goal of the game, though it was much too late.
The Red was able to outshoot the Crimson, 37-34, but did not connect nearly enough to put Harvard on the run.
“We really stuck with them and obviously I don’t think the score correlated with how well we played,” said Johnston. “We were basically in the game for the entire game except for the last half of the game where they got this breaking goal, which was a turning point for them. I thought we played really well and it was just bad luck for us.”
Giving its all in the last game of the season, Cornell battled hard against Dartmouth (13-4-3, 16-7-3), the No. 8 ranked team in the nation, before ending the game, 3-3. Trying to get past its loss from the night before, the Red was fired up and motivated to pick up a victory for the three graduating seniors’ — Stephanie Ulrich, Emma Chipman and Brianne Gilbert — last collegiate game.
“The loss kind of motivated us to come out harder and play smarter in the game against Dartmouth. By no means did it bring us down and not let us get ready for the game,” freshman defenseman Amanda Young said.
The Red got off to a tough start, taking two penalties in the first minute of the game. The Green was given a five-on-three advantage, but was blocked by the Red. White and freshman Chelsea Karpenko maintained control of the puck in Dartmouth’s zone before passing to Chipman, who lit the lamp with less than 4:00 remaining in the period.
[img_assist|nid=35149|title=Protect this house|desc=Freshman Catherine White holds down the puck against No. 8 Dartmouth on Saturday. The Red took a 3-3 tie.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Coming into the second period, the Green received a roughing call to put the Red on a power play. Sophomore forward Rebecca Johnston skated along with White, past three defenders to score 2-0. Just minutes before, Johnston had to be helped off the ice by her fellow teammates.
“I got the wind knocked out of me and a girl fell on my leg, so it was painful for that moment,” said Johnston. “It still hurt throughout the game but I was able to just skate it off and play through it’s cause I knew I had to get back on the ice and play my hardest.”
Catching the Red off guard, Dartmouth cut the lead in half to 2-1, when it got the puck past junior goalkeeper Jenny Niesluchowski.
Coming into the third period, Cornell swapped in some fresh legs to change the pace of the game. At 7:13, junior Liz Zorn netted the Red’s third goal of the night after smooth passes from sophomore Karlee Overguard and Emma Chipman.
Dartmouth soon regained its momentum from power plays as Cornell got into more foul trouble. Despite the Red’s lead, the penalty kill unit faltered on two power plays, letting the Green back in the game. In overtime, nobody could capitalize, locking in the tie.
“We played a lot better and smarter in the game against Dartmouth,” said Young. “Our downfall was taking a lot of penalties and they capitalized on the power play and we’re able to tie it up but we were able to dominate them all game.”
Niesluchowski made 34 crucial saves that help keep the Red on par with the Green and to secure a spot in the ECAC playoffs.
“We had a lead for the majority of the game but they caught up to us,” said Johnston. “We really stuck it to them and had so many chances and ending up outshooting them. I think we played really well and it was a close game so it was exciting and we had a lot of fans.”