This weekend began with a season with a lot of questions. The women slaughtered Brock in their exhibition game 13-0, but the question was whether that would translate to division I hockey success. In the first game, we saw a considerable number of new faces and a team that was determined to prove they could still score. The second game saw a more solid defensive effort. Now let's look a bit further into each game.
The first game, on Saturday afternoon, saw a considerable number of defensive pairings. Gagliardi and Cudmore were each on the ice with sophomores and freshmen. Between the two of them, they spent almost the entire game on the ice. And it worked well. While ensuring the underclassmen knew what it meant to be defensively sound, they also provided much needed stability for the team. But scoring was the story of this game. Scoring began only three minutes into the game, as junior Monika Leck netted the first goal of the regular season for the Big Red. Not to be outdone, classmate Emily Fulton potted one of her own just over 30 seconds later. In what was a dominant first half of the first period, sophomore Taylor Woods tallied one of her own just over nine minutes into the frame, marking the first power-play goal of the season. After scoring three unanswered goals, Northeastern was not ready to go quietly. In the last two minutes of the first period, they appeared to have retained control as they scored their first goal of the game after considerable pressure. The beginning of the second frame saw a shorthanded Northeastern bring the differential within one as momentum seemed to shift entirely to the Huskies. The Lady Rouge would not stand for that. It took over ten minutes, but the senior leadership of the team was determined not to let this one get away. Hayleigh Cudmore with a blast from the point scored on the power play to put the goal differential back at two. Before the period was over, Emily Fulton would score her second of the game to give the Big Red a 5-2 lead after two periods. With the flow of the game back on their pace, the Red scored one more goal from Hayleigh Cudmore as they stood tall for the rest of the game.
The second game was a purely dominant showing in terms of defense. The Lady Rouge took only three penalties and did not allow a single goal all game. Lauren Slebodnick earned a 16th career shutout and tied the all-time wins record with former goaltender Amanda Mazzotta '12. Not enough can be said about the defense in this game. Every player blocked shots, from Alyssa Gagliardi and the other defensemen to the forwards, every player was committed to defense and it showed. Only 23 shots were allowed through, though an appreciable number were blocked. Northeastern was only allowed three power play opportunities, and only 5 shots were allowed through all of them. Lauren Slebodnick played an excellent game and her skaters scored a goal in each period to top it off. Emily Fulton and Monika Leck each scored a goal and Jillian Saulnier netted her first goal of the season to end scoring for the weekend. The women played a solid game where Cudmore and Gagliardi got to have shifts off. The defensive pairing of Murray and Poudrier was incredibly solid. Impressive play by freshmen in particular Hanna Bunton showed the bright future of this team. The scoring was led by co-captain Jessica Campbell and her four assists. Hayleigh Cudmore with her pair of goals and pair of assists, and Taylor Woods with her goal and three assists. In all ten women tallied points with six different goal scorers over the weekend while Lauren Slebodnick earned Goaltender of the Week honors from the ECAC.
A Look Ahead
Cornell opens ECAC play this coming weekend hosting Clarkson on Friday and St. Lawrence on Saturday. Let's take a look at what the teams have done thus far this season and what Cornell needs to do to get the job done this weekend.
Clarkson thus far this season is 5-1-1 with the only tie and loss coming last weekend against Mercyhurst. This shows a chink in the armor of the media's and coaches's number one, but could also prove to be a curse for the Lady Rouge as Clarkson will have something more to prove after their single-point weekend. Their first outing of the season was against the CHA's RIT. That resulted in a 12-1 rout of the Tigers. In a non-conference home-and-home series, Clarkson next took on St. Lawrence, besting them both times by a combined score of 9-3. The following weekend, Clarkson played another home-and-home series, this time against CHA opponent Syracuse. The first game was the tightest Clarkson had played in yet, a 2-1 win, with the second game providing a more comfortable 4-0 victory to the Golden Knights. This past weekend saw the aforementioned Mercyhurst games as the Lakers traveled to Potsdam. The first night saw the Lakers hold Clarkson scoreless in a 2-0 victory. The second game was even tighter as the teams skated to a 1-1 tie.
Clarkson is a team which is incredibly impressive offensively AND defensively. Erin Ambrose holds 1.71 points per game and Carly Mercer holds 1.43 points per game. Ambrose also leads the country in power-play goals by an absolute number, though Cornell's Hayleigh Cudmore has more PPG/game. Goaltender Erica Howe has a GAA of just over one, coming in at fourth in the country, after seven games played with a save percentage of 0.954 garnering her the same spot just behind Slebodnick in the national rankings. Clarkson has taken just under 12 penalty minutes per game, while their kill percentage is 88.6%. They also are opportunistic on the power play, scoring on 18.2% of chances. Clarkson has an incredibly solid team, but they are not the all-mighty juggernauts that everyone thought they would be, especially given their last weekend. Cornell will be able to match up well against Tech this weekend, but will need to be incredibly disciplined in order to do so. Getting a lot of shots on goal is going to be key. Mercyhurst outshot Clarkson in their win by almost a 3:2 margin. They also managed to score on the power play in their win.
Thus far this season, St. Lawrence has compiled a disappointing 1-5-0 record. Are they the team that made a deep run into the ECAC playoffs last year or have they returned to mediocrity? It should be noted that St. Lawrence is better than its record. Their sole win was in their season opener against New Hampshire, a team which aims to be at or near the top of its conference and already has tallied an important conference win against Hockey East favorite Boston College. But back to the task at hand. St. Lawrence split their season opener with UNH, winning the first game 4-2 and losing a tight rematch 2-1. Their second weekend was a home-and-home series where Clarkson swept the Saints. To finish off the early season non-conference schedule, the Saints took two tough losses to Boston College. The Saints took an early 1-0 lead in the first game before BC scored its four goals. The Saints fought back at the end of the game, but it was too little, too late as BC skated off with the win. The rematch saw BC score first with St. Lawrence responding in the period. Though the game was mostly even, BC freshman Andie Anastos was the difference maker scoring an unassisted even-strength goal with less than six minutes remaining in the final frame.
St. Lawrence has not been shut out yet this season, and more importantly, their losses have been close, with the Saints playing a full 60 minutes. Cornell will need to not sleep on the Saints if they get a lead. Additionally, goaltending is a question when it comes to the Saints. Cornell is most familiar with junior netminder Carmen MacDonald who was stellar in her appearances against the Lady Rouge. But interestingly, sophomore Guilia Mazzocchi has seen the most playing time this year. Whichever netminder Cornell sees, the women will need to ensure that she sees a lot of shots. SLU has a power play conversion rate of 15.4% with an 88% kill rate on their nine penalty minutes per game. Cornell will need to be disciplined and remember that SLU can skate with them. Especially after a game to Clarkson, win or loss, Cornell needs to remember not to be complacent when playing St. Lawrence.
4 - Campbell, Cudmore, and Woods
3 - Fulton, Leck, and Poudrier
2 - Gagliardi and Saulnier
1 - Bunton and Murray