February 16, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Red to Close Out Regular Season

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Following a road weekend that saw the Red outscore its opponents by a combined score of 11-1, the ECAC Hockey and Ivy League champion Cornell women’s hockey team will return to Lynah this weekend to close out its regular season schedule against North Country rivals Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The action starts off Friday at 7 p.m., when the Golden Knights come to East Hill to try to become the only team to defeat the Red twice this season, and continues Saturday at 4 p.m. when the nationally-ranked Saints march in to play the last game of each team’s regular season schedule.

The No. 3 Red (24-3, 18-2 ECAC Hockey) has been on fire as of late, winning its last five games and dominating those opponents by a combined score of 24-3, including a 5-1 victory over current No. 6 Mercyhurst.

The Golden Knights (20-7-5, 14-4-2) have also been dominant recently, taking all of their last six contests, including a Jan. 28 victory over the Red in Potsdam, N.Y. No. 10 St. Lawrence has been on a role as well, and has not lost a single game since the Red left Canton, N.Y. with a sound 6-4 win over the Saints on Jan. 27.

Emotions will fly when the Golden Knights hit the ice at Lynah this weekend. Clarkson was the last team to beat Cornell this season and the Golden Knights will also be looking to improve their playoff position. A win would help them gain points on No. 8 Harvard, who currently sits in second place in the ECAC, just one point above the team from Potsdam.

“There’s a little bit of bad blood there,” said senior forward Chelsea Karpenko. “Nobody likes to lose … it still stings a little bit. It’s going to be a battle and we have to do our best to get ready for it.”

The Golden Knights are led by senior captain and defender Katelyn Ptolemy and sophomore forward Carly Mercer, who has tallied 39 points on the season. Clarkson is getting strong performances between the pipes from sophomore goaltender Erica Howe, who maintains a 1.77 Goals Against Average and has earned 20 victories on the season.

“We want to win every game from here on out,” said senior goalkeeper Amanda Mazzotta. “Playing a team that’s beat you is always a little extra motivation. Hopefully we come out strong.”

The Red will get an unexpected treat in playing a ranked team on Saturday when it takes on the Saints, who just broke into the national rankings in this Monday’s poll.

“We want the best reputation for our league as possible, so the more teams that are ranked in the top-10, the better,” Mazzotta said. “It shows how strong our league is. We’re excited – the more ranked teams you can play, the better it is for your own ranking. We know they’re going to come out strong, they’re always a very tough opponent and they always play aggressive.”

St. Lawrence comes into tomorrow’s game riding on the backs of sophomore forward Rylee Smith and junior forward Kelly Sabatine, each of whom have tallied 38 points on the season thus far. Freshman Carmen McDonald will likely get the nod in net and will be looking to improve her 2.02 Goals Against Average by limiting the Red offense. Like the Golden Knights, the Saints will be jockeying for playoff position this weekend.  Currently sitting in fourth place, two points behind Clarkson, St. Lawrence will give the Red all it has as it tries to move up in the standings (and hold off fifth-place Dartmouth) as the playoffs loom.

“It’s really exciting,” Karpenko said. “You always like to play great, hard-nosed teams and that’s when both teams’ true colors show. Being able to play them our last game of the season and end the season on that note is good [preparation] for [the] playoffs. They’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, they want to get home-ice advantage.”

Original Author: Zach Waller