After a quick break for the Thanksgiving holiday, No. 3 Cornell women’s hockey looked to preserve its undefeated season in what proved to be its most challenging matchup of the year.
The Red traveled to Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend to take on WCHA powerhouse Ohio State. The No. 6 Buckeyes played up to their billing, splitting the two-game series with Cornell. On Friday, the Red lost, 3-1, but it bounced back the next day to win, 5-1.
The first game started off slow for both clubs. In the first, Cornell (9-1-1, 5-0-1 ECAC) and Ohio State (10-3-4, 6-3-3 WCHA) struggled to find the back of the net and stood behind their strong goalies, Lindsay Browning and Andrea Braendli, respectively.
The Red was able to break the scoreless drought in the second off a goal from senior forward Kristin O’Neill. The play began on Cornell’s side of the ice when senior Amy Curlew cleared the puck from the Red’s defensive zone. After senior Jaime Bourbonnais picked up the loose puck, she coasted into the Buckeyes’ zone and ripped a shot from the blue line. Her shot was turned aside, but Curlew scooped up the rebound and put in a quick shot for the 1-0 lead.
But that lead only held for about four minutes. Later in the same frame, the Buckeyes’ Emma Maltais equalized the game off assists from Lisa Bruno and Liz Schepers. With time expiring in the frame, Maltais put Ohio State ahead, beating Browning once again.
Despite the push by Cornell in the third period, the Red couldn’t get past Ohio State’s defense and failed to generate any offense. The Buckeyes added in one more goal as insurance to make it 3-1.
After suffering its first loss of the season, Cornell had little time to make adjustments as it played Ohio State again the next day. Undeterred by its previous loss, the Red put on a much stronger performance on Saturday.
Shortly into the first period, senior Paige Lewis redirected a shot from Bourbonnais for a brilliant deflection goal right past Braendli. Halfway through the period, Cornell was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Ohio State jumped on the power-play opportunity. Schepers made it 1-1 in the first off a quick shot that beat Browning. It was the only goal the Buckeyes would score in the game.
The game was tied in the second until Ohio State’s Sara Saekkinen was called for slashing. The Red’s excellent power-play team finally showcased its skills and scored, giving the team a 2-1 lead. Assisted by Curlew and senior Micah Zandee-Hart, junior forward Maddie Mills deeked out the goalie and slid the puck between her skate and the post for the goal.
Sophomore Gillis Frechette and junior Finley Frechette combined for the team’s third goal only six minutes later. Gillis stole the puck in the Buckeyes’ zone and passed it across the ice to her sister Finley at the hash mark. Finley then fired into the top corner, beating Braendli.
In the third, Ohio State suffered another penalty, this time for boarding. Mills delivered her second power-play goal of the night off feeds from Lewis and Zandee-Hart. The end of the game saw an empty netter from O’Neill to cap off the 5-1 victory.
After allowing three goals a day prior, Browning had a career night between the pipes. She stopped 48 out of 49 shots she saw, a season-high for the junior.
Cornell will return home after the long weekend and will rest up before heading out on another road trip on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 to take on Princeton and Quinnipiac. The Red handled both of these foes, 3-1 and 1-0, respectively, the last time it faced them.