March 15, 2012

W. HOCKEY | C.U. Makes Third Straight Trip to Frozen Four

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Following a thrilling triple overtime win against the Boston University Terriers, the No. 3 women’s ice hockey team qualified for the Frozen Four for the third consecutive year. On Friday at 9 p.m. in Duluth, Minn., the No. 3 Red (30-4, 20-2 ECAC Hockey) will play the No. 2 Minnesota Gophers (35-5-2). The Red will face the Gophers for the first time since the late 1990s, and look to build off its momentum from the game against the Terriers.

The Frozen Four encompasses the semi-finals and finals of the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament. A win on Friday would send the Red to the finals and give them a chance to win a national title for the first time in program history.

“The whole team is just ecstatic right now, to make it to the Frozen Four and be one of the top four teams,” senior captain and forward Rebecca Johnston said.

While anticipation builds, the Red faces a challenging opponent in Minnesota, according to senior goaltender Amanda Mazzotta. The Gophers are not only highly ranked, but also play in a very competitive league.

“[Minnesota gets] great competition all the time. We’ve never played them before but they’re obviously an extremely fast, hardworking team with big physical defensemen and unbelievable goaltending,” Mazzotta said. “It’s going to be a challenge for sure, but we’re excited.”

The Red may be facing a formidable opponent, but after the longest recorded game in program history against the Terriers, the team has proven that it is ready for a fight. Despite the high profile nature of the Frozen Four, the Red says it will treat it like the many other successful games it has had this season, continuing to focus on strong defense and forechecking.

“For us, it’s just focusing on those little things we work on in practice,” Johnston said. “These teams have really great power plays, and it is really key for us to stay out of the box and work on our defensive play.”

So far this season, Cornell has not recorded any shutouts or ties, the only team in the country to do so. Also, the Red has already earned Ivy League and ECAC Championship Titles.

Qualifying for the Frozen Four is especially incredible for the team’s eight seniors, who have experienced great success in their time at Cornell. Their many accomplishments include three consecutive runs in the NCAA Tournament, three Ivy League titles, three ECAC Championship titles and numerous other impressive awards.

“To be able to go as a senior and close out my Cornell hockey career at the Frozen Four … I can’t even put it into words … It’s amazing,” Mazotta said.

With her Cornell hockey days winding down, Mazzotta also had some words of wisdom for her younger team members.

“Enjoy every moment. Four years of athletics at Cornell go by so fast and it seems that each year goes by even quicker than the year before,” she said. “Cherish those little moments and those fun things you do with your team. Try to get the most out of it every time you step on the ice.”

A win in the Frozen Four would only add to the many successes of the Red’s winningest senior class in history.  With everything on the line, the team will go into the game relaxed and determined, looking to close out another historic season.

Original Author: McKenna Archer