February 24, 2013

W. HOCKEY | Red Captures Fourth Straight ECAC Title

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The Cornell women’s hockey team completed its 2012-13 regular season with two impressive road victories: the Red first defeated Rensselaer on Friday, 4-1, and then knocked off Union, 4-0, the following night.  With the two wins and Harvard tying and losing this weekend, the Red captured its fourth consecutive ECAC regular season title and won the Ivy League championship outright. According to junior forward Brianne Jenner, the Red is happy to have won the title with hard work and clutch victories, but the team understands it has loftier goals to achieve in the postseason.“Winning the ECAC regular season title was one of our goals in the beginning of the year, and we knew that going into this weekend, some of it was in our control and some of it wasn’t. But we just focused on winning those last two games and doing what we could,” she said.  “It’s a long season and we had some tight games, and you realize how many big wins we had. There are a lot of things to be proud of and it’s a great accomplishment, but obviously our main goal is the ECAC playoff trophy.”Though the Red has started slow in a few of its road games this season, it was able to take a 1-0 first period lead in Friday’s game against the Engineers (10-20-4, 8-12-2 ECAC).  According to sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier, taking the early lead was especially significant.“We got a good jump in the first period,” she said. “We were getting chances, and fortunately we were able to bury one, and that got the ball rolling for us. It was really important to get that first goal, because that was a big game.”The Red widened its lead with two consecutive power play goals in the second period. Saulnier said that capitalizing on the limited number of power play chances the team received was a key to winning. “That was really crucial, because you don’t know if you’re going to get one power play or five power plays in a game, so taking advantage of every one that you get is crucial towards a win,” she said.  “So being able to take advantage of those is good for our confidence, and it will be good going forward knowing the little things that we need to do on the power play in order to have success.”The Red took a one-goal first period lead against the Dutchmen (7-23-4, 0-18-4 ECAC) once again, and senior defenseman Laura Fortino added two consecutive goals to open up the Red’s lead.    According to Jenner, getting significant offensive contributions from the defensemen was a good omen for the success of the Red’s offense in the ECAC tournament.“Having a balanced offense is going to be huge in the playoffs, because we will need everyone to contribute in order to succeed in playoffs,” she said.  “All three of our lines and all of our defense are contributing, so it’s nice to see that we have a good team offense going for us.”Saulnier added that Fortino’s goals also gave the Red a boost of confidence.“For Fortino to be able to put those two goals in was huge for her and for the team,” she said. “Plays like that get the team going and keep us motivated.”The Red finished off the season winning five of its final six games and is set to play at home during the first round of the ECAC playoffs next weekend. Jenner said that having momentum heading into the playoffs is usually a good indicator of how the team will play.“Going in on a roll is huge,” she said. “Oftentimes, whoever comes out on top in the playoffs is the team that’s on a roll and the team that’s cohesive and playing well, so hopefully we can continue the roll that we’re on,” she said.              Jenner and her teammates also understand that playoff hockey is a much different atmosphere.“We need to bring it up another gear because the playoffs is a whole new level of hockey. But we’re excited that we’re going to be hosting it, so hopefully our fans will be able to give us a good boost.”With its fourth consecutive ECAC title under its belt, the Red understands what it means to play in the intense atmosphere of the tournament.“Our experience could really help us,” she said.  “We have players with international experience and even our freshmen have been in a lot of big games, so it’s not going to be too new for anyone. We have a lot of experience in big games and we enjoy those big games [and] look forward to that pressure.”

Original Author: Ben Horowitz