November 21, 2011

W. HOCKEY | Reinforcements Lead No. 2 Red to ECAC Road Sweep

Print More

With many of its top performers and head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 returning from a stint with Team Canada , the women’s hockey team secured a four-point weekend in its first two-game road trip of the regular season. ­

Cornell (7-1-0, 6-1-0 ECAC Hockey) started strong on Friday night with a hard-fought victory over Princeton (4-5-1, 3-4-1), 3-1, followed by a rout of Quinnipiac (6-7-1, 5-2-1), 7-1, the following night.

Featuring a full complement of players, Cornell was excited for its first true road trip as a team.

“It’s sometimes nice to get away, get a breather and get a chance to bond. It’s a lot of fun being on the road with everyone,” said senior forward and captain Chelsea Karpenko.

Despite out-shooting the Tigers in the first frame, 15-4, the Red was held scoreless in a period for the first time this season in a scoreless tie, 0-0; however, the No. 2-ranked women took the lead just two minutes into the second on a goal by freshman forward Emily Fulton. Accustomed to scoring early and often, it was important for Cornell to stay patient and disciplined in the scoreless first, according to senior forward and captain Catherine White.

“It was really important not to get frustrated. Princeton was playing a really tight defensive zone, and they weren’t giving us grade-A opportunities in front of the net,” she said.

“Sometimes the bounces aren’t going your way even though you’re doing things right and putting pucks on net,” Karpenko added. “So being patient is key, and, sticking to our game-plan, we knew we’d eventually [score].”

After Princeton came back to tie the game midway through the second, the Red regained the lead for good on a power-play goal by sophomore defenseman Alyssa Gagliardi. Getting production out of underclassmen like Gagliardi and Fulton is a valuable and encouraging sign for Cornell, according to White.

“It’s really great and it looks promising for our program. They’ve really come into their own and adjusted well to college level hockey,” she said.

“It’s nice to see everyone scoring, and it really builds confidence among the team,” Karpenko added.

Another underclassman who played a key part in the victory was sophomore goalie Lauren Slebodnick, who recorded 30 saves on the night.

“It’s always a big confidence-booster when you know you have that last line of defense playing solid in net. If we made mistakes she was there to back us up,” Karpenko said of Slebodnick.

Senior forward and captain Rebecca Johnston sealed the win with an empty-net goal. According to Karpenko, maintaining focus on playing well defensively was key in the victory over the Tigers.

“We’ve really been trying to focus on defense. We did a good job of taking care of our own zone and letting the offense take care of itself,” she explained.

The Red started strong in its Saturday contest against the Bobcats and never looked back, scoring six unanswered goals — including two by Karpenko. According to White, the Red’s advantage in quickness played an important role in the win.

“Quinnipiac still battled hard, but we took advantage of the fact that we’re a faster team,” she said. “That really played into our hands because we were able to score on the rush by beating them with our foot speed.”

One area in which the Red improved over the weekend was on the penalty kill. After struggling down a player two weeks prior, Cornell killed off all seven power plays it faced against Princeton and Quinnipiac.

“Special teams is really important. Being mentally strong on [the power play and penalty kill] really makes a difference, and it showed this weekend,” Karpenko explained.

“We did a really good job of being aggressive and blocking shots like we’re supposed to,” White added.  The Red returns to action on Friday to begin a two-game series at Lynah Rink against Boston University (9-4-1, 4-1-0 Hockey East). The No. 5 Terriers represent the Red’s toughest challenge yet, according to Karpenko.

“It’s going to be a battle,” she said. “The last time we saw them was last year at the Frozen Four and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, so we have a little revenge on our minds.”

Despite the challenge, the Red is confident it can come away with a pair of victories.

“If we’re focusing on what we do best, no matter who we play, we’ll be successful,” Karpenko said.

Original Author: Ben Horowitz