The mood’s all changed. There is a reason. In a lot of ways, this is personal for this particular contributor. When pollsters, commentators, and coaches still were self-deluding and grasping to rationalize their prediction that this Cornell team would finish sixth in ECAC Hockey (sixth, as in squeaking into ECAC Hockey’s post-season), he believed.
Well, with a plurality of Ontarians on this team, it seems only appropriate to quote another: Started from the bottom now we’re here.
This team swept a formidable opponent in Colgate at Lynah already in the post-season. Lest we forget that those same Raiders began this season as preseason favorites to make the Frozen-Four tournament. That was not the first box checked in the long list of expectations for all Cornell women’s hockey teams.
Doug Derraugh’s 12th team skated to an undefeated season in this sport’s oldest conference. It was just the sixth regular season of Ivy-League play in which the Red emerged without a loss’ blemish. This team’s undefeated season in the Ivy League marks just the 12th time that a team has emerged without a loss in the League’s post-tournament era. These carnelian-and-white wearers defended their program’s legacy of greatness with a 13th Ivy-League title.
Now, they aim to build upon it.
This writer remembers the moment that this team captured his imagination. It took just 13:19 of its season. He camped out in the lair of Where Angels Fear to Tread and turned on ILDN to watch the first Cornell hockey game of the season. He did not know what to expect. The loss of character players who resonated with the essence of Cornell like Jess Brown and Anna Zorn had him wondering if the magic still could possibly be there. It was.
An intrepid donner of #13 collected the puck and raced in on an unsuspecting season. She fired truly with the confidence of a seasoned all-star. It was a magical goal in a crucial moment. This is how Valerie Audet introduced herself to the Lynah Faithful. This is how this team greeted the college-hockey world.
The air of that moment has not left the lungs of this team for long. Yes, at moments, it appears panting and taxed. It nevertheless has proven well-conditioned over the long haul. Whether it is the brazenness of a freshman who challenges record books as openly as she challenges opposing netminders when her team is shorthanded or a senior who has come full circle from Ivy-League rookie of the year to that league’s player of the year as a reliably dynamic scoring threat in every facet of the game, this team plays with love for each other and their University.
Yes, this contributor has been disappointed at times. One needs only think to the first two periods against St. Lawrence just two weeks ago to find the last instance of disappointment. Let’s not do that again, shall we? However, that disappointment comes from the same passion that this team has for itself. The contributors at Where Angels Fear to Tread are disappointed only so much in that we see the greatness in this team and take such pride in it.
This team never fails to work. It supports itself as one. Pippy Gerace’s willing her teammates to victory as she nursed a braced leg on the bleachers on East Hill, Sarah Knee’s holding Colgate at bay singlehandedly on an unexpected breakaway, or knowing, just knowing, that Big Paula was not going to allow a single goal in game two are what makes this team so distinctly Cornellian. It never tires. It never quits. It revels in ardor.
Cornellians make no excuses. They take it upon themselves to do the work necessary to be successful. They command themselves to deliver in crucial moments. The goaltenders and skaters on this team have done that. In this regard, they have set a very high post-season bar by which their male counterparts will be measured when their time comes. However, dare I say, this team is not done.
These players for Coach Derraugh have proven that they are better than sixth as many dismissed them. How much better? Well, as is the world through carnelian-tinted lenses, the playoffs are when all is proven. Cornell may still be only fourth. It has proven only that it is one of the top four teams. The Red continues to educate the college-hockey world as to how good it is. Then, it will answer, which four?
The namesake of Potsdam famously was host to the last of three meetings of the Big Three during the Second World War. Rather than the last, let’s make this the first of another three big weekends for this team. Hoisting the ECAC Hockey championship in Cheel was one of the last moments of this senior class’ freshman campaign. History’s refrain calls Hanna Bunton, Kaitlin Doering, Sydney Smith, and Paula Voorheis, and these exhilarating freshmen.
This contributor’s optimism from October 21 about the players on this team has not ebbed. Will we see you in Potsdam?
I know that they will not disappoint. I do not hope that they will be successful. I believe that they will.