March 2, 2011

Women’s Hockey Hosts Bobcats in Semifinal Matchup

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Tonight at 7 p.m. the women’s hockey team will take the ice at Lynah Rink to compete in the ECAC Hockey semifinals against No. 5 Quinnipiac (22-11-3, 12-9-1 ECAC Hockey). The top-seeded Red (28-2-1, 20-1-1) knocked Rensselaer out of the playoffs over the weekend and is looking to continue its journey towards the conference crown.The team has been preparing all season for the ECAC tournament, following the guidance and strategy of head coach Doug Derraugh ’91, who was recently named the 2010-11 ECAC Hockey Women’s Ice Hockey Coach of the Year. Derraugh’s coaching method revolves around analyzing the game play of Cornell’s team in contrast with the team’s opponent.“In practice this week we looked over [Quinnipiac’s] system and how they run things — looking at their game because if we play our game we know we can win things,” said sophomore forward Xandra Hompe.In its two matchups with the Bobcats in the past, Cornell has emerged victorious on both occasions — winning, 5-1, on Oct. 29 at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn., and at Lynah Rink on Nov. 20, 4-0. The series against Quinnipiac has been in the Red’s favor thus far, but the Bobcats have some key players who are pushing their way to the front of the pack. “In watching Quinnipiac in the past few weeks, they are a much better team than when we played them before,” Derraugh said.On the Bobcats’ roster sits freshman forward Kelly Babstock — five-time ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week for the 2010-11 season —  who leads rookies nationwide in shooting with 58 points on 30 goals and 28 assists in 36 games. In net, Quinnipiac is led by sophomore Victoria Vigilanti, who boasts a 93.5-percent save average for her overall 21-11-3 record — highlighted by nine shutouts. The Bobcats have proven that they are a contender for the title with national rankings in both power-play efficiency and penalty-kill percentage.“Quinnipiac is a team that is very disciplined and very strong offensively. They will come after you and pressure you on the ice — forcing many turnovers,” Derraugh said. “They are an opportunistic team and have the player of the year with Kelly Babstock. They have good solid defense and a good goalie in net. They are a contender and it will be a fast paced and exciting game for anyone that comes to see us.”Across the rink, Cornell has an equally impressive lineup. Freshman forward Brianne Jenner — three-time winner and current ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week — provides strong offense for the Red, assisting with five assists in the series against Rensselaer, including the tying and game-winning goals, and leading her team with 47 points in 29 games on 22 goals and 25 assists. Two other freshmen have also received the same award this season, forward Jessica Campbell and freshman goalie Lauren Slebodnick. The rookie net minder boats a 94.2-percent save average, higher than that of Quinnipiac’s Vigilanti. The freshman front has been very strong for the Red this season, following in the footsteps of many of the team’s veteran players. On defense, sophomore defensemen Lauriane Rougeau and Laura Fortino are both averaging more than a point per game, putting them past the 30-point mark for the season. Junior forwards Chelsea Karpenko, Catherine White and Rebecca Johnston have all surpassed the 40-point mark for the season as well. Johnston was voted the MLX Skates 2010-11 Player of the Week after the Red’s opening round playoff victory — an honor that she has held twice this season — for her game-tying goal in the last 6.6 seconds against Rensselaer last Friday night.The Red looks to improve its record again tonight, after learning from mistakes made last weekend.“We definitely learned a lesson Friday,” Hompe said. “We had a problem coming out strong. We are not used to being behind or down a goal — it puts us in a panic. For Thursday, we need to come out strong and score the first goal.”“We want to build up off of what we did against RPI in the last game, but we aren’t thinking about anything but Quinnipiac at the moment,” Derraugh said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge for us and we are taking care of what we need to right now because if we don’t focus on it now, there will be no game on Saturday.”The winner of the Cornell-Quinnipiac matchup will face-off against the winner of the semifinal between No. 3 ranked Dartmouth and No. 2 ranked Harvard. The final will be broadcast on the NHL Network on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Original Author: Lauren Ritter