After a dramatic comeback to tie Clarkson, 3-3, the night before, the No. 2 women’s hockey team entered Appleton Arena on Saturday afternoon with the opportunity to clinch the ECAC regular season title if it defeated the Saints of St. Lawrence. Despite having a subpar record, the Saints (13-14-2, 8-9-0 ECAC Hockey) have consistently played the Red (23-1-1, 17-0-1) tough over the past two seasons. Heading into Saturday’s game the Saints were 1-1-1 against the Red in the previous three meetings between the two squads.
“St. Lawrence is a tough team to play against,” said junior assistant captain and forward Rebecca Johnston, who leads the Red with 34 points on the season. “They’re very aggressive; they don’t give you the time and space that most players like to have, they always get on us fast. They may not have the best record but they’re one of the toughest teams to play against.”
The Saints kicked-off the scoring midway through the second period when freshman defenseman Mel Desrochers slipped one past freshman Red goaltender Lauren Slebodnick, putting Cornell in a hole for the second time in as many nights. Playing from behind is not something the Red has been accustomed to this season, as it has consistently been cruising to lopsided victories throughout the majority of the year.
“This weekend was very important for us in developing as a team,” Johnston said. “The last couple weekends we haven’t had close games; it’s important to get used to that pressure going into the third period down and knowing what you have to do to be able to come out with a win. It was definitely a good experience for us to have.”
Sophomore defenseman Lauriane Rougeau notched the equalizer later in the period with assists from junior forward Chelsea Karpenko and senior forward Haley Hughes, knotting the game at one before heading into the third period. Sophomore defenseman Laura Fortino then scored the eventual game-winner with 12:50 left in the game, as Karpenko tallied her second assist on the night. The Cornell defense held off St. Lawrence for the rest of the game, with Slebodnick notching 25 saves in the victory.
The win gives the Red its second consecutive regular season ECAC Championship, ensuring them of the No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament. Still, with four games to go on the regular season schedule — including a trip to second-place Harvard in for the season finale — Cornell will continue to look to improve down the stretch while also wrapping up the Ivy League conference title.
“It’s definitely exciting to clinch the regular season title with four games left,” Karpenko said. “The last four games don’t mean much in terms of ECAC standings, but all four are Ivy League games and we’re still trying to win that title, so that’s something that’s definitely very important to us.”
Original Author: Ware Cady