Freshman forward Gillis Frechette is hitting her stride at the most crucial time of the year, and nothing exemplifies her late-season surge better than her game-winning breakaway goal in overtime last weekend to send Cornell to the Frozen Four.
Taking a beautiful stretch pass from senior Diana Buckley, Frechette used a burst of speed, a quick hesitation and a nifty fake to beat the Northeastern goaltender and give Cornell a thrilling 3-2 win.
Helping lead Cornell women’s hockey to its first national semifinals appearance since 2012, Frechette has tallied a third of the team’s postseason goals.
Although the rookie only found the back of the net twice during the regular season, Frechette’s prolific scoring — five goals and one assist — has proven lethal to opponents in the season’s biggest moments.
“I felt like through the first half of the season I had a lot of chances, but the puck just wouldn’t go in for me,” Frechette said. “Everyone would always say to me, ‘It’s going to come, and the floodgates are going to open.’ I guess in some ways that’s what has happened. I feel like I have gained a lot of confidence having gotten a couple goals under my belt, and I think that is a huge reason for my success recently.”
The Weston, Massachusetts native’s five postseason goals have come at crucial times for the Red. When Cornell was trailing RPI in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals, Frechette notched the equalizer halfway into the third period, which set the Red up to win in overtime off of senior forward Pippy Gerace’s goal.
Then in the same series, unfazed by the weight of a do-or-die game three, Frechette posted a career-high two goals against one of the top goaltenders in the nation to lead the way for the Red to the ECAC semifinals.
In the semifinals, the Red found itself in a two-goal hole against Princeton on its home ice. Facing prospects of a premature end to its championship run, Cornell clawed its way to an overtime win after Frechette put the team on the board over halfway through the second period.
Finally, withstanding the immense pressure of heading into overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals, Frechette maintained her composure to take advantage of a fast break opportunity and light the lamp to upset No. 3 Northeastern and punch Cornell’s ticket to the Frozen Four last weekend.
Clearly thriving in the high-pressure atmosphere that is playoff hockey, Frechette has scored six of her 13 points this season in the past six games. She has also tallied a point in five of her team’s six postseason games.
With Frechette heading into the Frozen Four on a four-game point streak, and with a combination of starpower and a strong senior class to lead the way, Cornell looks poised to take on No. 2 Minnesota and battle for a spot in the national championship game for the second time in school history.
“Everyone on our team is beyond excited to be heading to the Frozen Four,” Frechette said. “Our team hasn’t made it this far since 2012, so it’s a new experience for us all. We’re all ecstatic about it.”