February 12, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Team Earns Third ECAC Title, Top Seed Position in Postseason Tournament

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The Red wrapped up the Ivy League title on Feb. 4 and defeated No. 5 Mercyhurst on Feb. 7, but the Red did not become complacent. Instead, Cornell (24-3-0, 18-2-0 ECAC Hockey) remained determined to win and did so in convincing fashion, beating Ancient Eight rival Brown (8-12-7, 5-11-4), 5-0, on Friday night, before defeating Yale (1-25-1, 1-18-1), 6-1, the following day. With these wins, the Red secured the ECAC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the ECAC playoff tournament.  Cornell also secured home-ice advantage for that tournament.

Against the Bears (8-12-7, 5-11-4 ECAC), the Red scored twice in the first period on goals by senior forward Erin Barley-Maloney and junior defenseman Laura Fortino.  However, according to head coach Doug Derraugh ’91, the team was slightly off its game at the start of the contest.

“I didn’t feel that we got off to a very good start,” he said. “We were a bit off, and we didn’t have very good tempo. I thought it got better as the game went on, though.”

Still, the Red scored the first goal of the game soon after executing a strong penalty kill.  According to Derraugh, having a good penalty kill, as well as playing well on special teams in general, can generate a big boost of momentum.

“Anytime the special teams kill off a penalty kill or the power play scores a goal, that’s really important for momentum, but the reverse is also true, so its really important that we play strong in both regards,” he said.

Senior captain and forward Rebecca Johnston added another tally in the second period.  The Red then scored twice in the third period, with Barley-Maloney and Johnston each notching their second goals of the game.  Johnston also scored two goals the following day against the Bulldogs.  According to Derraugh, Johnston’s success exemplifies a trend of playing excellent hockey that she has demonstrated all season.

“Rebecca had a very strong weekend, and I think she’s been very consistent all year long,” he said. “She has helped lead the team on both ends of the ice, and is very dangerous offensively.  She had a great  weekend.”

Barley-Maloney, a transfer student playing her first season for the Red, also stood out with her two goals.  According to senior forward and captain Chelsea Karpenko, the team is happy to see her playing on such a high level.

“She wasn’t able to play last year, so its nice getting back into the game, and like the team in general, she keeps on improving and is playing a huge role down the stretch,” she said.

The Red opened the game against Yale with three first period goals and never looked back, out-shooting the Bulldogs 53-9 in the lopsided victory. Cornell’s dangerous power play produced two of the goals.  According to Derraugh, the Red played even better against Yale than it did against the Bears.

“I think we were cleaner with our passing and with breaking the puck out better,” he said. “We attacked the offensive zone with more speed, and won more one-on-one battles.”

In both games the Red scored goals in multiple ways, both by taking long-range shots and executing deflections and rebounds, or by causing turnovers and thereby producing close-range, scoring chances. According to Derraugh, having this ability will benefit the Red when it faces strong opponents in the future.

“It will be really important going into the playoffs because we will be playing strong defensive teams, when you are going to have to find different ways to score goals,” he explained. “We want to score from the outside, but also cause turnovers. We have been working on our fore-check, getting those turnovers, and looking to attack in order to create good scoring chances.”

According to Karpenko, the team is very happy to have won the ECAC because that secures home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

“There’s nothing like playing at Lynah, so it pays off working hard all season to put yourself in position to have home-ice [advantage], so everyone is excited about that,” she said.

Original Author: Ben Horowitz