Cornell women’s hockey is gearing up to face Mercyhurst in a pair of home games, looking to lock in a rhythm before heading into conference play the following weekend.
The Red (0-0) is coming off a 10-0 defeat of Carleton University. Eight different players scored for Cornell in the exhibition match.
Senior forward Hanna Bunton, who netted two goals against Carleton, said she has been impressed with the 2016-17 squad thus far.
“The amount of energy that we have had in our first few games has been really impressive,” Bunton said. “I think we need to focus on playing tough and with a lot of energy for the full 60 minutes of each game. We are getting contributions from all players and that will be crucial for our success this weekend.”
Mercyhurst (1-2-1) will be the Red’s first regular season rival this season and is a familiar opponent. Cornell has seen the Lakers many times over the last several years, both in regular season non-conference games and the NCAA tournament.
“[Mercyhurst is] well coached and hard working team,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “They play tough and always have a balanced attack. They don’t necessarily have the superstars, but have always got three good lines and good solid defensemen and goaltending.”
While Cornell has yet play a regular season game, Mercyhurst has already played four games against some of the nation’s top opponents in No. 6 North Dakota (4-1-1, 3-1 WHCA) and No. 2 Quinnipiac (5-1). The Lakers saw a tie and win against North Dakota and Quinnipiac, respectively.
Bunton and the Red know what to expect of Mercyhurst.
“Mercyhurst is a very talented, hard working team,” Bunton said. “I expect them to come out hard and have a lot of energy against us. We have a long history of playing big games against them and because of this, the games are always very intense and fast paced.”
Derraugh also noted the benefit of playing a quality opponent like Mercyhurst at this point in the season.
“This is a great game to play [before] ECAC games because it will get us up to speed on how we have to play in order to be successful in our league,” Derraugh said.
Because the team has not played much this season, there is a bit of uncertainty about what the new squad needs to focus on.
“I think we need to limit our turnovers,” Derraugh said. “We need to do a better job of guarding our net. But it is hard to tell at this point in the season, and after the weekend we will know a little more about where we need to focus.”
Despite this inexperience, the freshmen have already made an impression on the coaching staff.
“I thought the freshmen did a very nice job in their first weekend, creating things offensively for us,” Derraugh said.
As a senior, Bunton said she knows the challenges of playing the first regular season game as a freshmen.
“I want to be able to lead by example on the ice, especially because we have quite a few freshmen,” Bunton said. “Going into your first game wearing the Cornell jersey can be nerve-wracking. I hope I can help ease some of their nerves so that we can just go out and play the game that we have prepared all pre-season for.”
Cornell takes on Mercyhurst at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Lynah Rink.