With two consecutive thrilling victories against St. Lawrence and Harvard in the ECAC playoff tournament at Lynah Rink, the Cornell women’s hockey team became the 2012-2013 ECAC hockey champions. Despite falling short of this title last year, the Red has now won it in three out of the past four seasons and has earned an automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament.
The Red first overcame St. Lawrence (19-14-5, 12-6-4 ECAC) on Saturday, 4-2, and then took down Harvard (24-6-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) on Sunday, 2-1. Both games featured record-high crowds at Lynah Rink. According to senior defenseman and captain Lauriane Rougeau, although the Red has worked towards this title all season long, its sights are set on even greater achievements.
“Winning this title means a lot,” she said. “Especially after losing last year, we really wanted to get this one back. All year we’ve been prepping for this moment. [But] it’s not over yet and we still have the automatic bid to the final eight, but we will enjoy this win for sure because it’s a big win for us. This week we will keep working hard, because the job is not over yet, and we still have our eye on the national championship.”
Saturday’s win over the Saints featured a standout performance from freshman forward Taylor Woods, who scored Cornell’s first three goals, including the game-winner with under two minutes to go in the third period. The Red had taken a 2-0 lead earlier in the game, only to see St. Lawrence come back to tie the contest at two before Woods sealed the win.
Sunday’s contest against the Crimson was another Lynah thriller. Junior forward Brianne Jenner struck first, but Harvard was able to tie the game at one. Junior forward Jessica Campbell then netted the game-winner on a power play with under two minutes left in the game.
According to Campbell, the Red’s success was a testament to its ability to execute its plan and keep the Crimson back on their heels.
“We just stuck to out game plan and didn’t really shy away from that, from the start,” she said. “We knew the goal was going to come when we needed it, but we really established our game on them and forced them to try to keep up with us the whole time, and it worked out for us in the end.”Jenner scored the game’s first goal after the Red forced a turnover, allowing her to skate towards the net undefended. She quickly moved the puck to her backhand and lifted it over the goalie’s glove and into the back of the net. According to head coach Doug Derraugh, the Red’s consistent pressure on Harvard caused the important turnover, and Jenner was able to capitalize.“One of the things we talked about before the game was being aggressive from the start, and just before that turnover we went hard on the forecheck and closed off the walls,” he said. “That’s what started the turnover, and when you turn it over to Brianne Jenner, that’s a dangerous play. It’s always important to get that first goal, especially in a championship game.”The Red was unable to convert on a series of power play chances, including a five-on-three, before it eventually scored on its final man-advantage. According to Campbell, the Red improved on each chance it received and was able to finally come through with the game on the line. “You just have to keep going on the power play. There [are] always going to be open lanes and open chances, and you just have to take what you get,” she said. “It was a matter of getting their penalty kill out of place and getting them to bite on what we want. Every power play kept building off the next. It’s not like each was more frustrating than the previous one, we just said let’s go out and do it again, and it came together at the right time.”The game-winning goal occurred after a Cornell shot forced Harvard’s goalie out of position, leaving the Red with an open net.“It was just kind of a scrum in the corner and I just threw it out in front of the net, and it went through the crease to Emily Fulton who was left alone in front,” she said. “She kind of made a nice move and deked out the goalie, it popped out and somehow literally landed on my stick. I had a completely open net, and the rest is history.”These two games drew record attendances, creating an atmosphere very much like that of the men’s hockey games. “I don’t think you can say enough about the crowd,” said junior defenseman Alyssa Gagliardi. “We joke that we had the occupy Lynah thing going on twitter, but the support that we got from other students in the community was incredible. It’s like your 6th man out there. It definitely helps a lot and we couldn’t thank everyone enough for coming out.”With the Red now entering the national tournament, it will face increasingly challenging opponents — with Mercyhurst as the first test — in the quest for an NCAA title.“If we just keep on playing the Big Red style of hockey that we’ve been playing all season long, and if we believe in ourselves and our system, I think we can go a long way,” Rougeau said.
Original Author: Ben Horowitz