After being named the best team in the nation earlier in the week, No. 1 women’s hockey headed out on its last road trip of the season to battle Brown and Yale — and clinch an ECAC regular-season championship en route to downing the Ivy foes.
It has been a year to forget for Brown (3-20-3, 2-15-2 ECAC). Cornell (23-1-3, 17-0-3 ECAC) showed the struggling Bears no mercy, relentlessly attacking the entire game. From the opening puck drop, the Red barraged Brown’s defense with shots coming from every angle.
Seven minutes into the opening period, senior forward Grace Graham broke the deadlock for her 12th score of the year.
Junior defenseman Willow Slobodzian waited near the blue line to receive a pass from senior forward Paige Lewis. Slobodzian rifled a shot towards the net just as Graham skated in front. The shot deflected off her skate and passed the Brown goalie for the goal.
Cornell would continue on to double its lead later in the period. With assists from Lewis and junior defenseman Kendra Nealey, senior defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart took a slap shot from the left side of the ice into a crowd of Cornell and Brown skaters. Brown goaltender Calla Isaac never saw the puck as it whizzed by her and into the top left corner to put the Red ahead 2-0.
Looking to extend their lead, the No. 1 team in America came out firing in the second. With 10 minutes gone in the period, senior forward Kristin O’Neill scored her first goal of the night.
Freshman forward Izzy Daniel started the play by controlling the puck in her own zone. She passed it ahead to junior forward Maddie Mills, who sent it right to the stick of O’Neill. O’Neill one-touched her pass into the net for the team’s third goal.
Shortly after her first, O’Neill recorded her second goal — once again, off a feed from Daniel.
In the end, Cornell’s offense proved too much for Brown. The Red was backed up by junior Lindsay Browning, who recorded her 10th shutout of the year in a game where she needed to turn away only 11 shots. The final tally was 4-0.
The Red followed up its win with another victory against Yale (15-12, 12-8 ECAC). By beating the Bulldogs 5-1, Cornell secured the best record in the conference and captured more hardware in its already remarkable season.
But the Bulldogs would not just give the title to Cornell. After a scoreless first period, Yale’s Kristen Nergaard broke the deadlock. Initially saving a Yale shot, Nergaard collected the rebound and was able to put it in for the score.
Playing in the rare position of needing to come from behind, the Red maintained composure and responded with a goal of its own three minutes later. Assisted by Zandee-Hart and junior defenseman Devon Facchinato, Lewis took the puck from right outside the goal crease to even the game.
Cornell took a 2-1 lead into the final frame after a power-play goal late in the second period. Working the puck around with the extra skater advantage, Zandee-Hart and Bourbonnais eventually found Mills lined up for a shot. She sank the puck into the top corner for what proved to be the winning goal.
The Red pulled away from Yale in the third, putting up three unanswered goals. Already with two assists, Zandee-Hart scored after a feed from junior forward Finley Frechette, when sophomore forward Gillis Frechette found her sister, who then sent it forward to Zandee-Hart. She tapped in the pass for the goal.
Mills got on the goal sheet for her second time of the night. Daniel dropped the puck for O’Neill, who skated into Yale’s defensive end. Streaking towards the net, O’Neill passed it right to Mills who redirected the puck into the net.
In the final goal of the evening, Zandee-Hart notched her fourth point of the game when she found Gillis Frechette, who took the puck into the slot and fired a wrist shot.
The 5-1 victory finished Ivy League play for the Red. With a perfect record in-league, Cornell is the undisputed champion of the Ivy and ECAC. Returning home to take on RPI and Union on Feb. 21 and 22, the Red will look to end their season on a continued high note.