A Kristin O’Neill hat trick, two shutouts and an 12-0 goal differential highlighted an easy and dominant weekend sweep for Cornell women’s hockey, one of the hottest teams in college hockey.
A weekend sweep characterized by two shutout victories further extended the Red’s impressive nine-game winning streak. In two stellar performances, Cornell (16-2-5, 13-2-1 ECAC) handily prevailed over Union College (3-22-2, 1-13-1 ECAC) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (11-12-5, 8-7-1 ECAC) with 7-0 and 5-0 scores respectively.
In just the first period of the Union game, the Red gave itself a 3-0 lead, taking advantage of turnovers by the Dutchwomen. Following a tense comeback win over Syracuse earlier in the week, the Red was looking to be aggressive from the outset.
“From our Syracuse game, we learned from that that we needed to be ready at the start of games,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “Giving up a two-goal lead put us in a hole and we managed to work our way out of it, but we didn’t want to have that happen again. We made sure to be ready right at the start.”
Junior defender Jaime Bourbonnais tallied the first goal of the night. After gaining the offensive zone, sophomore forward Joie Phelps sent a shot to the goal, which Union goaltender Amelia Murray deflected. Bourbonnais located the rebound and tucked the puck into the back of the net.
Just 30 seconds later, the Red forced Union to once again turn over the puck in the neutral zone. Senior forward Pippy Gerace set up the play, sending a pass in the Red’s offensive zone to junior forward Paige Lewis. Unobstructed by Dutchwomen defense, Lewis fired a shot into the goal, extending the lead to 2-0.
“We really focused on playing our game and being aggressive,” Derraugh said. “That created some turnovers for us and it was good to see us capitalize on those chances.”
After senior forward Lenka Serdar’s goal in the first, the winning momentum carried itself into the next periods. In the first seven seconds of a power play, junior forward and co-captain Kirstin O’Neill added to the Red’s dominant lead.
After Gerace extended the lead to 5-0, sophomore forward Maddie Mills secured the 6-0 lead on a power play near the end of the contest and Lewis took advantage of a Union turnover to make it 7-0.
Both sophomore Lindsay Browning and freshman Kaity McKenzie guarded Cornell’s net, giving senior Marlène Boissannault a night off and collecting an easy total of 11 saves over the course of the game.
The following day, RPI also fell victim to the Red’s dominating play. The win marks the team’s seventh shutout this season.
Not even two minutes into the first period, O’Neill put Cornell on the scoreboard. She found the rebound of a shot by Mills, and tucked in into the goal.
O’Neill recorded the 50th career goal in the second half of the middle period, firing a deflected puck past Selander.
Grace Graham extended Cornell’s lead to 3-0 to finish the second period. After the Red lost control in front of the goal, Burke repossessed the puck and sent it back to Graham, who send the pass into the net.
In a third-period power play, Selander denied consecutive shots by junior forward Graham and senior forward Diana Buckley, but Serdar’s shot needled its way past the Engineer goaltender, who began the game with the highest save percentage in the nation (.946).
The final tally came right at the final buzzer on another power play. O’Neill secured a hat trick when she buried a rebound into the net, giving the Red a 5-0 advantage.
Defensive prowess complemented the Red’s offensive domination, reflected by a 53-11 shots on goal margin. Senior goaltender Boissonnault saved all 11 shots of the night, recording her 14th career shutout.
“Not giving up any goals reflects a strong defensive effort from everyone and strong goaltending,” Derraugh said. “On the flipside of it, there were some great offensive outputs as well — it is a good combination to have.”
The Red has been dominant on its home rink — after the games against Union and RPI, Cornell’s home record stands at 9-1-0.
“We are very fortunate to have great support both in Ithaca and [at] Cornell University,” Derraugh said. “It plays a huge role. Our fans are tremendous and the band provides a lot of energy — it is a real big advantage when we are playing at home.”
The Red faces a slew of ECAC competition with just six regular season games left. The team will hope to maintain its winning streak in the North Country next weekend against perennial ECAC heavyweights No. 5 Clarkson and St. Lawrence.