As expected, both games this weekend were hard-fought, close games. The Dartmouth game began the rough road weekend for the Big Red. The first period was peppered with shots, 20 in all, with 12 coming from Dartmouth and 8 coming from Cornell. Dartmouth would have the edge at the end of the first period, scoring less than two minutes before the period was over, Dartmouth got one by on Lauren Slebodnick, who was back to playing after a hiatus due to injury. It was an unassisted breakaway, which cannot be blamed on Slebodnick. The rest of the game was just as tight. The Big Red scored on the power play five minutes into the second, with Taylor Woods getting the tying goal, assisted by Jill Saulnier and Brianne Jenner. The remainder of regulation was scoreless, with the shot totals being 28 for each team. As happened in the last game between the two opponents, this game went into overtime. On a powerplay, the Big Red ended the scoring 3:38 into the 5 minute overtime. It was a shot that Saulnier knocked in, assisted by defensemen Fortino and Rougeau.
Looking for a statement win against one of the only other teams that remained undefeated in league play. At the end of the night, there would be one less team to be able to stake a claim as undefeated in ECAC play. The Harvard team, which had come off of a 4-1 win against Colgate the night before, was eager to take down a hungry Cornell team. Harvard opened up scoring less than five minutes into the first, with the Big Red fighting hard to stay in the game. At the end of the first, the shot totals had Harvard barely edging Cornell by an 8-7 margin. Cornell would answer early in the second with a goal from Erin Barley-Maloney assisted by Lauriane Rougeau, putting one past freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. No one would score until the third period when Harvard gained the go-ahead goal almost eight minutes into the third. Cornell came back hard, but the Crimson would get one more on an empty net. Maschmeyer had a stellar game, but so did Slebodnick. The biggest problem in the game was that Harvard was able to stifle Cornell's impressive offense and hold them to a mere 22 shots, lower than its average of 32.8. Luckily, Cornell has another shot at Harvard, and Dartmouth as well, when the travel partners come to Lynah in mid-February.
In the Big Red's last weekend of the first semester, it plays host to two tough teams. First, second-ranked Clarkson will host the Lady Rouge at Cheel and familiar opponent St. Lawrence will host the Big Red the next afternoon at Appleton. First, let us take a look at Clarkson.
Clarkson remains undefeated in league play, one of only two teams in the league to hold that honor along with last week's opponent Harvard. Their record going into the game is 12-2-0, with the only losses coming in splits with Mercyhurst and North Dakota. Both losses were close, with one goal separating the winners from the loser, and Clarkson came out much stronger than expected. If a North Country team were to be predicted to do well in league play this year, it likely would have been St. Lawrence, after their win in the ECAC Championship Final last year, not Clarkson. But Clarkson is the team which has impressed. This will not be an easy fight for the Big Red. Here are some things to look at when playing the Knights:
Their primary goaltender has a stellar save percentage of 0.946, and a GAA of 1.31.
The Knights average 30.8 shots per game, allowing their opponents only 23.6 shots per game.
Their power play conversion rate is 31.7 percent, almost ten percent higher than the Big Red's rate.
The penalty kill rate is 89.6 percent, not quite as high as the Big Red's 91.1 percent
What the Big Red is going to have to do against Clarkson is keep them off the power play and kill penalties well. Cornell did not let up a power play goal last weekend, while it scored two. The Knights are slightly less penalized than the Big Red (averaging 10.1 vs. 10.9 PIM/game), but their conversion rate on the power play is incredibly impressive, scoring 19 goals on 60 chances. It is imperative for special teams to click, as well as for the Big Red to get back to their normal offensive peppering.
The Saints have already visited the Big Red this season, earning their fifth loss in a row, before turning their season around. The Saints are 7-6-1 overall, but more impressively are 5-1-0 in league play. They went on a seven game winning streak before their last outing brought the streak to a close. The Saints played three games in one weekend, facing off against Princeton and Quinnipiac in league play before playing UConn in a non-conference tilt. They were 1-1-1 that weekend, suffering their loss to Quinnipiac, their first in conference play. In the last game the teams played against each other, the shots on goal were 25-17 in favor of the Big Red, Cornell won the game 5-1 with three goals being even strength and the remaining two being power play. The Saints's only goal was on the power play late in the game. Here are where the Saints stand compared to earlier in the season.
Shots on goal average is 31.5 while their opponents average 27.2.
The save percentage of the two goaltenders are 0.900 and 0.908.
The power play conversion is at a dismal 14.1 percent while their penalty kill is only 80 percent.
The Saints were rolling and had a weekend off that the Big Red did not. Cornell travels to the North Country to take these teams on this weekend, and while neither team will be easy to beat, if Cornell sticks to the same sort of game it played last time against SLU, Cornell has a good chance of winning at Appleton. Keys include remaining vigilant on the penalty kill and aggressive on the power play. If they pepper the goaltenders with as many shots as they average, Cornell would come out with at least three goals given the current save percentages.
Neither team will be easy to beat, but Cornell should be up to the challenge for their last games of 2012. After this, the Lady Rouge are off until a mid-January trip to Massachusetts to take on the Huskies of Northeastern and the Eagles of BC. Two more wins would make this break a stellar one.
17 - Jenner, Saulnier
10 - Rougeau, Woods
9 - Cudmore
8 - Fortino
7 - Fulton, Gagliardi
6 - Brown, Murray
4 - Campbell, Leck, Poudrier, Zorn
1 - Barley-Maloney, Pittens, Richardson, Slebodnick