The Cornell women’s hockey team took to the road for a slight break from conference play to battle No. 1 Wisconsin for a two-game series. The Red came into the game undefeated in its last four games, but dropped both of the weekend’s games.
Coming into the game, the Red (6-4-1, 4-2-1 ECAC) knew it had to play strong defensively to hold off Wisconsin’s (14-1-1, 12-1-1 WCHA) third-best offense in the nation.
“Our mindset going into both games was to concentrate on the defensive because of how strong offensively Wisconsin was as a team, they were able to place pucks on the net from every angle,” said freshman Amy Curlew.
Senior goaltender Paula Voorheis recorded a career-high 51 saves on Friday night’s game against the Badgers, and the team recorded a season-high 24 blocked shots, but the performance still was not enough to fend off the Badgers’ strong offense.
Through two periods, the Badgers outshot the Red 28-8, but neither team was able to draw first blood and the teams entered the final period of play in a 0-0 draw. The Badgers finally broke the deadlock at the 8:46 mark of the final period, when Baylee Wellhausen took control of a loose puck and put it into the back of the net.
With just under five minutes to go in the period, Sarah Nurse slipped the puck past the net and put the Badgers up 2-0. Annie Pankowski sealed the deal for the Badgers by scoring an empty-net goal in the final minute of play for the 3-0 victory.
Voorheis’ 51 saves were the most for the Red since 2010, and Wisconsin finished the night outshooting the Red 53-11. Curlew acknowledged that the strong Badgers offense was difficult to contend with.
“They were really relentless in the offensive zone,” Curlew said. “They were a challenging team who didn’t let up at any point. We made some unforced errors that they capitalized on.”
Wisconsin’s offense didn’t slow down on Saturday. The Badgers opened up the scoring early when they capitalized on a power-play opportunity and went ahead 1-0 just 70 seconds into the game, thanks to a goal from Maddie Rolfes.
The Red wouldn’t refused to down easily and saw a good amount of back-and-forth in the first period. After a backhanded shot by freshman Paige Lewis was saved, sophomore Lenkar Serdar grabbed the rebound and tied the game one-all at the 11:13 mark.
The Badgers were quick to respond, scoring just 62 seconds later to go up 2-1. With less than five minutes left in the first period, the Red earned a power play opportunity and took full advantage. Freshman Kristin O’Neill got the assist from Curlew, and she shot and scored a backhanded goal, knotting the game at two.
The game was tied entering the second period, but the Badgers finished the game scoring three unanswered goals — two goals in the second period, and one in the third — to finish with a 5-2 victory.
Despite the showing, senior Hanna Bunton said she believes that playing a high-caliber team like Wisconsin was important for the team.
“Obviously they are an unbelievable team but we were able to hold our own and challenge such a talented team,” Bunton said. “I think the team knows we need to clean up certain areas of our game but are also able to see the potential we have going down the stretch.”
The Red will return to Lynah Rink to continue ECAC play and take on Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.