Cornell women’s hockey is rounding the season’s final corner and the playoffs are within sight. This weekend’s contests against Rensselaer and Union, Red’s final regular season games, mark valuable opportunities to move up in playoff seeding.
Earlier in the season, the Red (18-3-6, 15-3-2 ECAC) notched a decisive 5-0 shutout win against RPI and a landslide 7-0 victory against Union. Fresh off two ECAC wins against Brown and Yale, Cornell is looking to exert its dominance over this weekend’s competitors once again.
Even though Cornell handily swept Union (4-26-2, 2-17-1 ECAC) and RPI (13-14-5, 10-9-1 ECAC) earlier this month, the Red realizes that it cannot take any games for granted.
“We know that we were at home the last time, and we know that these teams are very tough in their own buildings,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “We did not play as well as we hoped last time we were on the road so we want to make sure we have a better weekend on the road this time around.”
At the end of the regular season, the result of each game has crucial implications for the playoff picture. The teams ranked No. 5 to No. 8 in the ECAC are all within one point of each other, and just four points separate the top and fourth ranked teams. Cornell trails No. 1 Princeton by a single point and leads No. 3 Clarkson by two. The weekend could see a lot of movement in the standings.
“The games this weekend are important point-wise and for playoff positioning because there are four teams right now that are vying for the top spot in the league,” Derraugh said. “Every game can sway things one way or the other as far as playoffs go.”
Cornell has placed itself in a favorable position for its third ECAC tournament appearance in three years after securing home ice for first round play. Cornell also moved up two spots in the national rankings after last weekend, claiming the No. 4 spot. Despite this success, the Red realizes that it needs to continue to improve its game.
“There are a number of things we are looking to shore up defensively and offensively,” Derraugh said. “We feel that our defensive zone hasn’t been quite as sharp as it was earlier in the year. On the offensive side, we hope to create opportunities to score and finish on those chances.”
“Defense and grit wins games,” said senior forward Lenka Serdar. “We have to continue to commit to playing a solid defensive game this weekend. We are focused on one game at a time.”
The Red is looking to finish off the regular season this weekend with a pair of wins before it’s off to the races in the ECAC tournament. These contests will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at 3 p.m. Saturday.