February 9, 2012

W. HOCKEY | No. 3 Red Hits the Road

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Cornell closes out Ivy League play this weekend on the road.

Following Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over No. 5 Mercyhurst at Lynah Rink, the Cornell women’s hockey team heads back on the road this weekend to face Ancient Eight rivals Brown and Yale. The action starts Friday at 7 p.m. in Providence, R.I. against Brown and continues Saturday at 4 p.m. when the Red makes the trek down I-95 to take on the Bulldogs in New Haven, Conn.

The No. 3 Red (22-3-0, 16-2-0 ECAC Hockey) is on a three-game win streak, earning wins over RPI, Union and Mercyhurst, all within the last week, and sits atop the ECAC standings, a full five points ahead of the second place team, No. 8 Harvard. On the other hand, Brown (7-11-7, 4-10-4) has been on a slide as of late, losing each of its last four games. Brown’s skid, however, does not even begin to compare to Yale’s. The Bulldogs (1-24-0, 1-17-0) have not won a game since an overtime victory against Union on Nov. 11.

“Both teams definitely have their backs up against the wall,” said senior forward Chelsea Karpenko. “They’re going to throw everything at us. We’ve got to be ready for that. I don’t think this time of year the standings say much.”

While the standings may not say much about how teams perform at this point in the season, they will indeed be an important factor when the puck drops Friday night at Meehan Auditorium. Currently, the Bears are embroiled in a heated battle with RPI and Colgate for the last spot in the ECAC playoffs, sitting in eighth place in the conference and occupying the final tournament slot. Brown will likely be looking to add to its current total of 12 points in order to fend off the Engineers (12 points) and the Raiders (11 points).

“Brown is fighting for a playoff spot and they have been playing really well recently,” said junior defenseman Lauriane Rougeau. “We can’t underestimate them. They’re going to come hard at us Friday night.”

The Bears have been playing well recently, taking Clarkson — the last team to beat the Red — to overtime just last weekend. Lead by senior forward Katelyn Landry, who has tallied 18 points on the season, the Bears will prove a strong test for the Red, especially as head coach Amy Bourbeau tries to make big impressions on the program in her first year at the helm.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend,” said sophomore forward Brianne Jenner. “Brown is fighting for their life and they have home-ice advantage. It’s never easy when you go on the road and we’re just hoping to finish up the season strong.”

While things may look a bit different when the Red heads down to Connecticut to take on Yale, the team maintains that it will approach the struggling Bulldogs just like it has approached its other opponents this year: from the standpoint that the whole team must contribute in order to win.

“The reason that we’ve had such convincing wins over the last little bit is because we’ve had the whole team going,” Jenner said. “I think, [Tuesday] night especially, all of our lines contributed in every aspect of the game.  We’re trying to build] off of the win we had [Tuesday] night and not [take] any steps back.”

The last time the Bulldogs faced the Red was on Oct. 28th, when the Red handed the Bulldogs a 9-0 thrashing, and went on to deliver another 9-0 thumping of the Bears at Lynah the next day.

Yale is ranked last in many categories on the national stage and suffered a tough season-opening loss to Cornell. Look for the Red to get tested in this one, as the Bulldogs would like to scrape up a few more victories before the season ends.

While many Cornell players have excelled recently, the team maintains that everything it does is a team effort and that playing as a team is the only way they have been able to be so successful thus far on the season.

“Different people are stepping up on different nights,” Karpenko said. “Everyone has been contributing and we’re going to need that going down the stretch.

Look for the team spirit to be a huge factor as the team tries to capture another ECAC title this weekend — which it would do with two victories — and begins to ready itself for the playoffs.

Original Author: Zach Waller