Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

Gillis Frechette handles the puck against Harvard on Feb. 5, 2022.

January 31, 2023

Women’s Hockey Drops Two Amidst Struggles on Defense

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Cornell women’s hockey (12-9-2, 9-6-1 ECAC) wrapped up its weekend back at home with two losses to Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard. 

On Friday, the Red faced Harvard (7-12-3, 6-8-3 ECAC) in a high-scoring battle. It was a back-and-forth game with each team scoring and the other responding. Cornell only led once in the game when it led the Crimson 2-1 in the first period. After that, the Red was tasked with playing catch up with each goal scored. 

“We gave up some goals early against Harvard and kept trying to fight our way back,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. 

It was 6-5 for Harvard going into the third and the Red had some good looks to tie the game once again. However, just five minutes into the third, Shannon Hollands scored to give the Crimson a 7-5 lead. 

That did not deter the Red as they fought till the very end. With less than a minute remaining in the third, Cornell opted to pull its goalie during a power play to give them a six-on-four advantage. Freshman forward Mckenna Van Gelder capitalized and scored with about thirty seconds remaining. The Crimson defense held strong as time winded down and the Red fell 7-6. 

“[We] got down early in the game and it just ended up being one of those games that went back-and-forth all the way through. [I was] pleased that we were able to find some ways to score goals, but if we’re gonna have success here in the second half of the season, we’ve got to do a better job of playing better defense,” Derraugh said. 

Looking to bounce back, the Red faced Dartmouth (7-16-0, 3-13-0 ECAC) on Saturday. In an evenly contested first period, Cornell led the Big Green with shots on goal. Strong defensive efforts by both teams kept the score leveled at zero. 

Dartmouth, however, proved to be too mighty in the second, breaking down the Red’s defense and scoring three goals. Cornell looked to recover in the final minutes of the second, and the Red battled, registering three shots on goal in the final thirty seconds. 

Looking to build off the momentum from the final seconds of the second period, Cornell came out into the third on a tear, controlling the play and keeping the puck mostly in the Dartmouth zone. After some good looks, the Red finally got on the board in the third with a goal by junior forward Izzy Daniel. 

However, it did not take long for the Big Green to respond with another goal forty seconds later by CC Bowlby. With Cornell pulling its goalie in the final few minutes, Dartmouth solidified their lead with an empty-netter, giving the Big Green a 5-1 win. 

Despite the two losses, there was no shortage of offensive efforts from the Red. In both games, Cornell had outshot its opponents by a large margin. 

The Red, however, struggled on defense. 

“Some of the areas where we have struggled is our awareness of the puck, when we tend to get puck-focused on the defensive side and aren’t aware of what’s happening away from the puck,” Derraugh said. “I think also, we need to communicate better defensively, we’ve had some breakdowns where we had two players trying to do the same job [which] leaves somebody wide open on another area of the ice.”

The Red will look to bounce back this weekend when it heads up to Potsdam to take on No. 9 Clarkson (21-7-2, 10-5-1 ECAC) on Friday and then St. Lawrence (12-16-2, 6-8-2) on Saturday. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+. 

Cornell is at No. 5 in the ECAC standings, while Clarkson sits right above them at No. 4. The top four teams get home-ice advantage, something that is crucial for the Red. Beating both the Golden Knights and the Saints would allow Cornell the chance at home-ice for the start of ECAC playoffs. 

“These will be real big games,” Derraugh said. “We’re really close to Clarkson [in the standings], so that will be a big swing one way or another, depending on who comes out on top, so [it is] really important.”