January 19, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Red Hits Road for Rivalry Weekend

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The Cornell women’s hockey team has recorded a number of statement victories through the early portion of its season. The No. 3 Red (16-2-0, 11-1-0 ECAC Hockey) faces perhaps its toughest challenge to date this weekend when the squad hits the road for two contests against Ivy foes — and ECAC opponents — Harvard and Dartmouth. The No. 9 Crimson (11-5-1, 8-3-1) hosts Cornell on Friday night after racking up two straight wins against Union and Rensselaer, while the No. 10 Green (11-5-2, 7-3-2) plays host to the Red on Saturday looking to extend a seven-game unbeaten streak.

“Harvard and Dartmouth are both really good teams, so we’ll have to be at our best to win,” said senior defenseman and captain Amanda Young.

This weekend marks the second time that the Red faces-off against the Crimson and Green this season. Cornell fell to Dartmouth, 5-4, at Lynah in early November, but bounced back to defeat Harvard the next night, 5-3. After playing close contests with both teams, senior captain and forward Rebecca Johnston believes the Red can learn from those games and be better prepared for this weekend.

“Since we’ve played them already we kind of know how they play, the areas that they’re stronger at and the areas that they’re weaker at,” she said.

“The biggest thing it tells us is just not to take them lightly,” Young added. “Dartmouth and Harvard are really great teams. They’re big, they’re strong, and they play hard. We know we’re gonna have to work extremely hard, maybe the hardest they we’ve ever had to work, in order to get past them,”

One of the major factors in Dartmouth’s November victory was its two power-play goals. The Red knows that stopping the Green’s power play will be a major key to victory this weekend.

“We want to block shots and keep them along the walls — not let them pass it around,” Young explained. “Our penalty kill starts when the other team is breaking out of their zone. We have so many different parts to the penalty kill and we have to be accurate in all of those parts.”

“We know how their power play is set up. They have one person on the back door who tries to score so we need to make sure that our four players get down to stop that player,” Johnston added.

The Red can also learn much from the home victory over Harvard, according to Johnston. In its early season victory over the Crimson, the Red jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

“It’s always good for us to get that first goal,” Johnston said. “It’s a great motivator for us and once we get that first goal we’re great at keeping the energy up. We should try to focus on coming out strong and getting that first goal.”

As a whole, the Red is a confident group; however, according to Johnston, the team balances its cautious confidence with an awareness that the competition is stiff and must not be overlooked.

“We’re confident, and I think we’re ready for any challenge that comes our way. We’re prepared to battle. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re prepared for the challenge,” she said.

These two games also kick off a four-game stretch on the road against ECAC opponents, marking the Red’s longest road trip against conference opponents all season.

“We put a lot of emphasis not only at playing well at home, but also winning on the road. We focus on being consistent, and that’s something we will have to do to win on the road,” Young explained.

Original Author: Ben Horowitz