Lindsay Browning’s time on the Hill can be defined in many ways, but one in particular, is record-breaking. At Cornell, where ice hockey has been such a strong program, Browning has changed the game and has her name inscribed in most of the record books.
“She has been one of the greatest goaltenders ever to play at Cornell in our 50 year history,” said Head Coach Doug Derraugh ’91.
Browning began hockey as a young girl. Her mom and sister played, and loved the sport since she stepped on the ice. She never planned on playing college hockey–in fact she quit right after high school. But plans changed, and, as she likes to put it, she came “crawling back” to Coach Derraugh.
Browning’s first two years playing for the Red were pretty uneventful. She did not see much action and was in the shadows of star goaltender Marlène Boissonnault ’19. For any athlete, that could be tough, sitting on the bench and watching someone else play, but for Browning, that was not the case.
“I was just so happy to be there, happy to be on a team of really great people and really great coaches,” Browning said. “So it was mostly about, like I’m here to uplift my teammates and do whatever I can to help them and in the process, make myself better…when the time comes, I will be ready.”
And when the time came, she was ready.
By her junior year, Boissonnault had graduated, leaving a spot open for the starting goaltender. Browning started in all 33 games of the season and proved that she truly belonged by becoming the first goalie to open the season with three-straight shutouts. From only starting in a total of eight games in her first two seasons, Browning had led the nation in virtually every single goaltending stat.
During the season, she was named National Goalie of the Month and ECAC Hockey’s Goalie of the Month. She was also named ECAC Goalie of the Week four times, out of 14 regular-season weeks. Her 12 shutouts, 28 wins, and .894 winning percentage all shattered Cornell’s single-season records.
She finished the season with a goals against average of 0.91, which ranked fourth on Cornell’s single-season record list and a save percentage of 0.952, breaking the Red’s single-season record.
Browning was also named as a Top-10 Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, an award given to the top female college ice hockey player in the United States. She also was named Ivy League Player of the Year and earned All-American honors, becoming the first Cornell goalie ever to be named All-American.
Beyond individual accomplishments, Browning was crucial in leading the Red to one of the best seasons to date. From November 30, 2019 to March 7, 2020, Browning backstopped the Red to an unbeaten streak of 22 games. Cornell only lost one game on home ice and never lost an in-conference game, becoming the first time in program history that the team went undefeated in the ECAC. The Red also went undefeated in the Ivy League regular season, easily securing its 15th Ivy League Championship. Cornell had made it all the way to the ECAC Championship game when it was upset in overtime by Princeton. The team had also earned a spot in the NCAA women’s ice hockey tournament as the No. 1 seed, however, COVID hit, canceling the rest of the season.
It was devastating. After all the team had achieved the past season, to end like that was painful. As for Browning, she was heartbroken.
“This was probably the most special team I’ve played on, like [I thought] this could be our year,” Browning said as she got a little choked up. “And to have that kind of yanked away, so suddenly, it was kind of like a shock to the system.”
Almost two years later, the sudden end still haunts her.
With a chance to spend an extra year at Cornell as a graduate student, Browning did not hesitate on taking up that offer. For her, she was not looking to break new records, but she was looking to set a new foundation for their young team, so that when she leaves, Cornell women’s hockey will be in good hands.
The team did have some success after a long time away from competition. Browning once again backstopped the Red all the way to the ECAC quarterfinals where they fell to the eventual champion, Colgate. She was also named to the All-ECAC second team.
Not only did Browning lead on-ice, but she led off the ice as captain. Generally, goalies are rarely named captain. Partially because goalies have a lot on their plate already, they need extreme focus during the game, it would be difficult for them to manage on-ice captain duties as well.
“I think in and of itself tells you how special Lindsay is as a leader, as a person, as a team member…we felt that Lindsay was somebody who had proven over her years at Cornell that she could handle a multitude of tasks, and nothing seemed to faze her,” Derraugh said.
Browning seemed to like challenges, as she somehow managed to combine the three most difficult things here on campus: Being a student-athlete, a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program and a student in the College of Engineering, studying Biomedical Engineering. So, fulfilling captain duties and concentrating on the game was no problem for her.
As a captain, she set a remarkable example for all the players. To many of them, she is more than the stats and accomplishments, she is just Lindsay the leader and teammate.
“She would also come out early in the morning to get extra skill sessions and extra goalie sessions in for practice before school…it’s that day to day commitment and consistency that she’s taught this group and what it means to work hard on a daily basis and to be dedicated and passionate about what we do here at Cornell,” Derraugh said.
Her time here at Cornell was highlighted with numerous awards and accomplishments. Her name will forever be etched in program history, however, Browning has only one wish.
“I kind of hope that my individual name isn’t really remembered. I hope that what’s left behind is the culture and the continued growth of the program and the growth of the individual players as well.”
But, according to Derraugh, that’s Lindsay Browning – always humble.
“She’s never going to brag about her accomplishments,” Derraugh said. “And I think what her legacy that she leaves, I think it’s the day to day person that Lindsay is. It’s the dedication that she puts in every day to everything that she does.”
Cornell women’s hockey will always be grateful for #29 for all that she has accomplished for the team, both on and off the ice.
“I hope I’ve left [Cornell hockey] in a better place than I found it,” Browning said.