January 20, 2013

W. HOCKEY | Back at Lynah, Slebodnick Carries Red Over ECAC Foes

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After winning its first home game in almost two months earlier in the week, the Cornell women’s hockey team looked for more Lynah success in weekend contests against St. Lawrence (13-9-2, 8-3-1 ECAC Hockey) and Clarkson (18-6, 10-2). The Red proved victorious in both games, defeating St. Lawrence, 6-0, and beating Clarkson, 3-1, the following day.

With these victories, the Red (14-4, 10-2) moved into a tie with Clarkson for second place in the ECAC, with ten conference games still to be played.

“This was a huge weekend for us,” said junior forward Brianne Jenner. “We needed those wins to set our sites on the regular season championship, and those were two of the top teams in the ECAC, so it was really important for us.”

In the game against St. Lawrence on Friday night, neither team scored in the first period. Junior forward Brianne Jenner broke through midway through the second period, and the Red scored five unanswered goals to complete the lopsided win. Junior goaltender Lauren Slebodnick earned the shutout, and her play in both games played a major role in the Red’s victories, according to Jenner.

“Those were two of the best games of the year for her, and we’re going to need that from her going forward,” she said.  “We were strong defensively against Clarkson, but we gave up a few really good chances and Lauren came up really huge for us with really timely saves. That kind of play can really spark momentum for your team, and it ended up doing that for us.”

This momentum gave the Red confidence late in the game.

“She made some big saves that could have been game changers early on,” added sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier.  “It was important for her to play her best game and she did just that.”

According to Jenner, one of the keys to the Red’s wins this past weekend was adding better focus to the energy that the team has been playing with in recent weeks.

“We were a lot more focused than we had been in previous games,” she said.  “Our energy has been really good the last few weeks, but our focus was much better this weekend. The Clarkson game was a huge win for us and probably the best 60 minutes we had played all year.”

According to Saulnier, the Red’s loss to Clarkson earlier in the season gave the team additional motivation to bring their best game to the Knights in the rematch.

“They are a great team, and they never back down,” she said. “They come to battle every time.  That motivated us and kind of pressured us in a good way to play our best and get the win.”

The Red took a 1-0 lead late in the first period against the Knights on a goal by junior forward Jessica Campbell. According to Saulnier, that first goal energized the Red and led them to the win.

“We’ve been working on getting a jump on the other team, and we knew we had to get the momentum rolling,” she said. “That goal got us pumped up and focused on the energy, and ultimately led us to the win.”

“We’re a good team at playing with the lead, so scoring first gets momentum and lets us get all three of our lines rolling,” Jenner added.

Jenner scored a power play goal in each of the two games.  According to Jenner, a slight change in focus helped the power play succeed.

“We just changed our emphasis a little bit,” she said. “Coach really wanted us to move the puck with speed, move our feet, make shots, and recover shots. Our puck recovery and retrieval was huge.  We were outnumbering them and outworking the penalty kill, and that’s what generated our chances.”

The two weekend wins mean that the Red remains undefeated at home, with a record of 9-0.

“Its always good having home ice advantage. The fan base has been great and we have a lot of support. It’s a huge aspect of the game. We’re also playing for the fans and the school. It’s been great having the support, and it will only get better from here,” Saulnier said.

Original Author: Ben Horowitz