With another weekend sweep in the books, Cornell women’s hockey is armed to take on ECAC competitors Clarkson and St. Lawrence in its first road trip of the year.
Fresh off a 1-0 win against Quinnipiac and a 3-1 victory over then-No. 6 Princeton, the Red has thus far dominated on the ice. In its four-game winning streak, the Red’s offense has notched 13 goals against its competitors; its defensive unit has allowed the puck to find the back of Cornell’s net only once.
With 38 saves over the weekend, junior goaltender Lindsay Browning was named ECAC goaltender of the week for the second week in a row. She also became the first goaltender in program history to start the season with a three-game shutout record.
Armed with wins against some of the nation’s top competitors, the Red (4-0, 2-0 ECAC) will hit the ice against St. Lawrence (4-3-2, 1-0-0 ECAC) and No. 6 Clarkson (7-1-2, 2-0-0 ECAC). Both ECAC foes will be riding the momentum of three-game winning streaks and the Red will be stripped of the comfort of Lynah Rink to take on the stiff contenders.
“It is always a tough road trip going up to Clarkson and St. Lawrence,” head coach Doug Derraugh said. “They are always two very good hockey teams. We know it is tough in their buildings, so we know we have our work cut out for us.”
Last year, the Red notched a 4-0 win against St. Lawrence and then came to a 1-1 standstill later in the season.
Cornell’s recent history against Clarkson has been more tumultuous: Last year, in the regular season, the Red secured a 3-1 win, but later in the season suffered a 4-0 loss against the Golden Knights. Most significantly, Clarkson deprived Cornell of the ECAC championship title in a 4-1 ECAC Final game.
Even with these results fresh in the minds of both teams, the Red understands that last year’s results, for the most part, have little bearing on their performance this weekend.
“It is a new season with new teams,” Derraugh said. “In college hockey, you have players that come in and players that graduate, and both teams have had a lot of changes from last year to this year in that respect, so it’s a totally new season.”
However, Derraugh said, the coaching staff has remained consistent — “so there won’t be any surprises in that regard.”
In addition to the challenge of tackling some of the nation’s best hockey teams, the Red will be down two key players: senior defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart and junior forward Kristin O’Neill. The two powerhouses have joined Team Canada to represent their nation in the Rivalry Series against the United States Women’s National Team.
Rather than letting a leadership void put a damper on its auspicious season, the Red will rely on its younger players and the overall depth of the team to drive them to success.
“We have a strong team concept with strong team players, and we feel very comfortable with the depth of our team,” Derraugh said. “We know that we have players that can step up and do the job for us, so I am excited to see some of our younger players take on these new roles.”
The new members of the team have acclimated to the team’s style of play and expectations with ease. The coaching staff and older players recognize the importance of impressing upon the younger players the values that the team espouses.
A common sentiment that they want to impress upon the younger players, especially as they begin their careers as collegiate hockey players, is the individual importance and weight of each game — no games can be taken for granted as one early-season win or loss could mean the difference between receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament, to which only eight teams are invited.
“Our older players make sure that our younger players are holding themselves accountable and that they are holding each other accountable,” Derraugh said. “They have come to realize that one missed assignment, a missed play, or a missed pass, or missed scoring opportunity can be the difference between getting into the NCAA tournament or not.”
Claiming the 3rd position in the national rankings, the Red will seek nothing short of excellence in its upcoming contests. The puck will drop this Friday against St. Lawrence at 6 p.m. followed by a 3 p.m. competition on Sunday against Clarkson.