As it looks ahead to two Ivy League matchups and Senior Day this weekend, No. 6 Cornell women’s hockey had no problem taking care of business in a midweek contest.
Cornell (15-7-3, 11-5-2 ECAC) coasted to a 5-0 shutout of Central New York rival Syracuse (9-17-2, 8-5-1 CHA) on Tuesday, led by sophomore forward Kristin O’Neill’s first collegiate hat trick.
Junior goaltender Marlene Boissonnault stopped 24 shots in her fourth shutout of the season.
The Red got off to a quick start, with O’Neill registering the game’s first tally less than five minutes into the opening frame. Before long, O’Neill had scored another and junior forward Diana Buckley had netted a power-play goal, leading Cornell to a commanding 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
“I thought from our end tonight, pretty solid effort across the board,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “Obviously got off to a great start, that was key. Sometimes these Tuesday night games can be a little bit wonky … so we’re pretty happy with the effort overall tonight from our team.”
Tuesday’s game was the second time this season that Cornell had played against Syracuse, having defeated the Orange on the road, 6-3, back in early January. In that contest, the Red jumped out to an even earlier lead, but seemed unable to keep its opponent at bay, having not established a commanding lead until the game’s closing minutes.
This time, however, Cornell had no trouble imposing its will on Syracuse.
“We had a good start against them at Syracuse,” Derraugh said. “But the second period was not very strong for our part, so I think [the players] recognized that and didn’t want the same thing to happen again tonight.”
Freshman forward Maddie Mills had the primary assist on O’Neill’s first two goals and the secondary assist on her linemate’s third, which came with about five minutes to play in the second period.
“I definitely thought we as a line had a lot of energy coming into tonight’s game,” O’Neill said. “We didn’t really change anything but we were just feeling good.”
The victory marked Cornell’s 10th straight win against the Orange.
Now, the Red turns its focus to the upcoming weekend, which will feature two Ivy League and ECAC matchups against Yale and Brown. Cornell clings to the ECAC’s fourth spot, two points ahead of fifth-place Quinnipiac and one point behind third-place St. Lawrence.
The fourth-place position in the conference standings is key as the season winds down, as the top four teams enjoy home-ice advantage in the ECAC quarterfinals, while the other four who earn a postseason berth are forced to play on the road.
“We’re in the home stretch here right now, so everybody is fighting for playoff position,” Derraugh said. “Whether you’re fighting for home-ice or fighting to get into the playoffs, something is going to be on the line.”
The Bulldogs sit in eighth place, in line for the last conference playoff spot. Brown is last in the conference, having won just one of its 18 conference games.
“It will have NCAA implications for us, it will have ECAC implications for us and it will have Ivy League implications for us,” Derraugh said. “It’s a fun time of year because you know every night you’re playing in a game that will make a difference down the stretch.”
The puck drops at 6 p.m. Friday against Yale at Lynah Rink, and the team’s Senior Day contest is at 3 p.m. Saturday against Brown.