November 10, 2013

WOMEN’S HOCKEY | Red One of Two Undefeated NCAA Teams Remaining

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The No. 3 Cornell women’s hockey team went undefeated in two ECAC contests this weekend at Lynah Rink, and after these impressive wins over Rensselaer and Union, the Red remains one of only two unbeaten teams in the NCAA. After defeating Rensselaer (3-7-1, 2-2-0 ECAC) in a close Friday night contest, 3-1, the Red enjoyed a lopsided win over Union (4-8, 1-3 ECAC), 8-1, on Saturday. According to senior forward and captain Jessica Campbell, the Red’s unbeaten streak is cementing its elite position above most other teams in the league.

“Me and Alyssa Gagliardi, the other co-captain, have been talking to the team about how there are a lot of ups and downs in the league, and the Minnesota Gophers are the only other undefeated team, but we want to be the exception,” she said. “We don’t want to be that team that just follows everyone else this year and can be beaten by anyone on any given day. We want to be the front-runner, and our coach says that at this point in the season, halfway through the first half, you start to see great teams separate themselves from average teams.”

Friday’s game against the Engineers started off relatively slowly, with Cornell killing off two RPI power plays early in the period. Junior forward Jillian Saulnier broke through with a goal on Cornell’s first power play with about four minutes left in the first, and freshman Hanna Bunton netted her first collegiate goal with just one tenth of a second left in the period, giving the Red a 2-0 edge. According to Campbell, the Red’s ability to score on the power play and kill penalties are key aspects of its success.

“We put a lot of work into our special teams, power play and penalty kill, and I think thats starting to show,” she said. “It’s nice to see early on that we’re having success on the power play and defending a lot of penalty kills as well, because as we move forward it’s going to be crucial to our success. To be able to get confident in those systems now is huge for us because they do make a big impact on the result of the game.”

According to Saulnier, strong chemistry on the power play has been a crucial component of its success.

“I think we’re talking well, and we’re getting used to each other and where everyone’s going to be,” she said. “Sometimes that’s what makes good teams great, knowing where your teammates are going to be without even having to look. We’ve been working on that a lot in practice and we’ve been getting lots of opportunities in games to execute.”

The special teams success continued in the second, with Cornell killing off a five-on-three power play to preserve the 2-0 lead. The Engineers cut their deficit to one in the third, but Saulnier responded by scoring her second of the game to seal the win.

Saturday’s win over the Dutchmen was far easier. Cornell scored four goals in the first period and enjoyed a 6-0 lead before Union could get one goal on the board. Freshman goalie Paula Voorheis saw her first collegiate action when the game was well in hand and made 18 saves.

“I think the greatest thing to see on our team is that everyone has contributed, and if you look at the statistics, every line, even defense, are getting big goals for us. It’s great to see that we’re all having success,” Campbell said.

This coming weekend, the Red will travel to face traditional rivals Harvard and Dartmouth in two important ECAC contests.

“The win happens and it’s in the past, and you’re on to the next game, so just making sure to stay humble and continue to focus on our goals will hopefully lead us to the success that we want,” Campbell said.

According to Campbell, the Red is confident in its abilities and is excited for the upcoming games.

“We’re trying to stick with what’s working for us and to keep building, because we are very confident in what we’re doing and we’re going to keep moving forward and keep getting better,” she said. “It’s great to have an awesome start like we’re having, and our team is very excited to see where it’s going. We have some huge games coming up this weekend. If we can come up big this weekend it’s going to make a statement and send a message to the rest of the league that we’re going to keep leading the way.”