October 24, 2011

W. HOCKEY | High Hopes as Season Play Begins

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Tonight the Cornell women’s hockey team begins its 2011-12 season on the road against traditional rival Colgate (3-2), with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.The Red has made the Frozen Four in each of the past two years, but failed to win the championship, losing in the finals in 2010 and in the semifinals last season. A new year brings a new opportunity for Cornell hockey to go all the way.“[Winning the championship] is definitely the goal for the season,” said senior captain and forward Rebecca Johnston. “We know how heartbreaking the loss last year was and we don’t want it to happen again.”Still, the team is trying not to think too much about that ultimate goal.“As far as the season goes we obviously want to take another step [past the semifinals], but we’re not really focused on that right now,” said head coach Doug Derraugh. “At this point in time we’re just focused on playing well, playing excellent ice hockey and developing champion-like habits. But we know that we came up short and it’s something in the back of our minds.”The Red faced Colgate twice last year and beat them easily each time; however, Cornell is not taking the Raiders lightly this time around.“It’s a whole new team, a whole new year, so we don’t really know what to expect,” Johnston said. “We’re just going to work our hardest and try to do the things we need to do to win.”While this will be Cornell’s first game, the Raiders have already played five regular season games and are coming off an encouraging road win at Syracuse. Colgate is also unbeaten at home thus far. This edge in game-play experience is another factor that the Red will need to overcome.  “It’s an advantage for them,” Derraugh said. “They are already in game mode.  We’ve got to get up to game tempo in a hurry.”According to Johnston, the Red has frequently practiced game situations in order to be ready for tomorrow’s opener.However, Cornell is not worrying too much about its opponent. Instead, the Red wants to start the season playing up to the level of which it is capable.“We’re looking to see how we play as a group and developing those strong habits we want to have for the rest of the season,” Derraugh explained. “We just want to see our team play well.”The team also needs to adjust to its new composition this year.“We need to get used to each other and develop the team chemistry that we need to win those games,” Johnston said.With the game on Colgate’s home ice, Cornell knows that getting ahead early and taking the crowd out of the game will be an important step to winning.“Getting the first goal is important,” Johnston said. “We need to focus on getting pucks to the net so we’ll have the opportunity to score.”Still, the Red will need more than a good start to be successful.“It comes down to this — it’s about getting off on the right foot but also of playing a full 60 minutes of hard, disciplined ice hockey,” Derraugh said.Being that this is the first game of the season, in game line adjustments may be necessary.“You never really know until the game gets going,” Derraugh said. “We’ll see how the lines are clicking at the start of the game.  It always takes a week or two of tweaking, so we’ll be looking at different options.”Winning this opener will give the team a positive vibe to start the season.“If we win and we play well then it’s a good sign early on,” Derraugh said. “We’ll be happy and [we’ll] get ready for the next one.”Right now. the team can hardly wait for the puck to drop.“We’re all really excited to get going,” Johnston said. “It’s the first game for the freshmen, so they’ll be excited and ready. We’ve been looking forward to this for a few months now.  Hopefully tomorrow will be the first step to a great season.”

Original Author: Ben Horowitz