After rounding out an outstanding 2017-18 season in which it finished ranked No. 6 in the nation, the Cornell women’s hockey team looks poised for yet another successful run.
Although it graduated a strong senior class, including Sarah Knee ’18, Erin O’Connor ’18 and Brianna Veerman ’18, Cornell remains a powerhouse in the ECAC, returning three of its four ECAC all-league winners in junior captain and forward Kristin O’Neill (first team), junior defender Jamie Bourbonnais (second team) and sophomore forward Maddie Mills (all-rookie). Junior captain and defender Micah Zandee-Hart also returns to the Red after playing for the Canadian National Team last season.
“We did graduate a very strong senior class and you cannot replace what they brought to the team,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “We do have another strong senior class again this year though, and our younger players also gained valuable experience last year and have shown great improvement.”
The Red also added six new freshmen to round out its already talented roster.
“We have added freshmen at every position and we feel they will make an immediate impact,” Derraugh said. “We are excited about our future with this freshman class.”
The freshmen proved an integral part of the team effort last night as No.7 Cornell (1-0, 0-0 ECAC) opened up regular season play, coasting to a 4-1 victory over regional rival Syracuse (2-4, 2-2 CHA).
Freshman forward Gillis Frechette had her first collegiate start and fellow classmate and forward Sam Burke notched her first collegiate goal and the first goal of the season for the Red off of assists from sophomore forward Grace Graham and sophomore defender Kendra Nealey.
“The freshman class is very strong,” O’Neill said. “We’re really excited with how well they have been doing so far. They are all very dedicated and they’ve all improved already since they got to Cornell.”
Other scoring efforts came when senior forward Pippy Gerace found the back of the net off of assists from Zandee-Hart and senior forward Lenka Serdar. O’Neill also netted two goals to solidify the win. The first off of assists from Mills and Frechette and the second off of assists from Mills and Nealey.
Last season, every single skater had tallied at least one point over the course of the season and the diversity of players who contributed to the scoring effort last night showcases the depth of the current Cornell roster.
The Red also kept the Orange scoreless on power play opportunities, proving that it has not lost its touch on its penalty kill after leading the nation in that category last season.
Despite all its successes, Cornell was the first team out of the NCAA tournament last year — a fate that left the Red with a bitter taste in its mouth and determined to prove itself on the national stage this season.
“Our goals for the season are to win the Ivy League and make it to the Frozen Four,” O’Neill said. “We are striving to win the ECAC, too, to make sure we automatically make it to the final eight.”
The Red opens up Ivy League and ECAC play at Lynah this weekend as it welcomes Harvard (1-0, 1-0 ECAC) on Friday and the Dartmouth (0-1, 0-1 ECAC) on Saturday. The puck drops at 3 p.m. for both games.
“Our goal is to be consistent and get better throughout the year,” Derraugh said. “We want to focus on the process. If we give our best, and work to get better each day, then positive results should follow.”