February 24, 2011

Women’s Hockey Hosts RPI in First Round of Conference Playoffs

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The quest for a national championship begins this weekend for the Cornell women’s hockey team, who will open up the playoffs in the ECAC quarterfinals by hosting RPI in a best-of-three series tonight at 7 p.m. in Lynah Rink. The Red (26-2-1 Overall, 20-1-1 ECAC) holds the top overall seed in ECAC, ensuring home games as long as it keeps winning. The Red and the Engineers met twice during the regular season and the Red won both games by a combined score of 12-1. While the Red remains heavy favorites entering this weekend’s series, the team knows that in the playoffs, anything can happen.Especially in the playoffs, no lead is ever safe, and the Red is conscious that it can never let up against such a relentless opponent.  “The big thing about RPI is that they never quit,” said junior forward Chelsea Karpenko, who was recently named to the first-team All-Ivy squad. “You can never get comfortable with them no matter what the score is because they’re going to keep coming at you.”Not only is it important for the Red to jump out to an early lead in tonight’s game, but it is also crucial for Cornell to jump out to a lead in the series. Winning the first game in of a three-game series prevents a team from having its backs up against the wall.“For the last couple of weeks our focus has been about getting off to early starts and winning the early battles,” said junior forward Catherine White, who was voted to the second-team All-Ivy League team. “We place a lot of emphasis on the first two games [of three-game series]. We look at it as more along the lines of do or die; we want to win the first game and the second game and not even think about the third.”After such a successful regular season, the playoffs are finally upon the Red. Much of the team has been through playoff hockey before, but there is no denying that the atmosphere of the playoffs feels different. Last season, the Red was the Cinderella story, not even supposed to make the playoffs let alone come within one goal of a national championship. This season however, expectations have been high from day one. “It’s definitely a completely different atmosphere,” White said. “This is what you’ve been playing the whole year for so you better be ready for it. It’s playoff hockey. Sometimes the best team wins, sometimes it doesn’t — but it all comes down to who works the hardest and who puts it all out on the line.”

Original Author: Ware Cady