The Cornell women’s hockey team hits the road this weekend when they travel up to Syracuse on Saturday to take on the Orange in an out-of-conference clash. The Red returns to Ithaca and ECAC play on Tuesday when Colgate comes to Lynah Rink. The pair of games marks a contrast with last weekend’s grueling coupling of games with top ranked teams Princeton and Quinnipiac. Both Syracuse and Colgate come into their respective games struggling and should offer considerably less of a challenge.
Syracuse comes into Saturday’s game having won only twice in their past six games. The Orange were blown out last Tuesday against Clarkson, falling 5-1. The Orange’s four victories this year have come against teams with a combined record of 13-28-1.
Syracuse struggles cannot be blamed on their offensive attack, which has produced an impressive 2.75 goals per game over the first third of the season. The attack is led by forwards Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini, who have combined for 30 points this season. The Orange also has a capable scorer in Nicole Ferrara, who has already totaled six goals.
Syracuse’s problems can be found inside the net. When Syracuse has lost this year, they have given up an abundance of goals. In their six losses, opponents are averaging almost four goals per game. In wins, the Orange have held opponents to a very impressive 1.25 goals per game. Syracuse has shown the ability to put the puck in the net, but they need their defense to keep them in the game. Cornell’s offensive attack has struggled to begin the season and a vulnerable Syracuse defense might be able to get them on the right track.
Similarly, Colgate has demonstrated that they have a very potent offensive. The team currently ranks 7th in the nation of terms of goals per game, averaging almost three. However, much of this production can be attributed to the team’s opening stretch of the season, in which they began 4-0-1. Over these five games, the Raiders averaged five goals per game and scored six goals twice during the period. The hot start demonstrated just how potent their attack could be.
“Colgate has done a great of limiting the amount of scoring opportunities for the opposing team, while making sure they capitalize on their own chances to put the puck in the net,” said junior forward Kaitlin Doering.
Since this hot start however, Colgate has struggled. The team is averaging less than two goals over their past six contests and hasn’t experienced a win in over three weeks. Goalie play has been pretty good for the Raiders, with the team allowing less than two and a half goals per game, but the offense hasn’t generated enough production. Like Syracuse, Cornell may be facing the Colgate at the exact right time, when the team is struggling.
But in order to take advantage of their opponent’s struggles, the Red must be able to score. The Red currently rank in the bottom three in the nation in terms of goals scored, and are dead last in power play production. Doering has some ideas about how to increase this production.
“In order for us to initiate scoring opportunities we need to make sure we have a strong net presence and aren’t limiting ourselves to the perimeter of the ice,” Doering said. “By moving the puck quickly and creating space for ourselves, we should be able to find lanes to the net and be certain we are the first to any rebounds. We must not only create second opportunities, but capitalize on them as well. That will be the difference this weekend.”
The Red must hone in their game if they want to come away with a sweep in these next two games.
“Our habits and the details of those habits,” said senior defenseman Cassandra Poudrier, “will be crucial.”