Cornell headed to the North Country looking to rebound after a tight loss to Harvard. Cornell, ranked number 3 in the country, faced off first against number 2 Clarkson. The first period was a scoreless one where Cornell was uncharacteristically outshot by a 2-1 margin. In the second period, Clarkson opened up scoring just over five minutes into the second frame. Cornell answered it with an even-strength goal of their own, from Lauriane Rougeau assisted by Erin Barley-Maloney and Alyssa Gagliardi. The scoring was silenced until just over halfway through the third period when Clarkson took the lead and never looked back, with a power-play goal off of a ninth penalty on the Lady Rouge. The game was close and hard-fought with Cornell and Clarkson both putting 30 shots on net. Special teams seemed to make the difference in the game. Lauren Slebonick had a stellar game putting up an impressive save percentage of 0.933, making crucial saves for the Big Red when needed, especially on the penalty kill.
St. Lawrence was a tough opponent the next night as the Big Red looked to snap their first back-to-back losing streak of the season when they entered Appleton on Saturday afternoon. The Big Red showed a lot of character fighting hard in the first period. Brianne Jenner was the first to score, almost nine minutes into the first period, assisted by Kelly Murray and Jill Saulnier. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Anna Zorn forced a turnover in the SLU defensive zone in order to put the Big Red up 2-0. Just before the period reached its conclusion, St. Lawrence found the back of the net on a power-play opportunity to put them within striking distance as the period ended, 2-1 in Cornell's favor. The second period saw its only scoring by Jessica Campbell, fresh out of the sin bin, using her speed to her advantage to put the puck in, extending Cornell's lead to 3-1. SLU tried to come back in the third, but Cornell would have none of it, with Barley-Maloney scoring the empty netter 74 seconds before the end of regulation, assisted by Jenner and Campbell. It was a character win, with Cornell proving what a great team it was all around: impressive offense, defensive skill in the form of blocked shots all around, and reliable goaltending as always. It was a great way to end the first half of the season, with a win on the road and with fans eagerly awaiting the Boston games as well as January 15th, when the women host Syracuse in their first game at Lynah in two months.
Where the League Stands Now:
The ECAC is a little bit misleading to look at purely in terms of points. Each team in the league has played different numbers of games, with the Big Red, the Bobcats, the Tigers, and the Raiders playing 10, Clarkson and SLU at 8, Harvard and Dartmouth at 7, and Union, RPI, Brown, and Yale at 6. It is difficult to compare exactly who is first because Cornell has the most points, but has more losses than its closest opponents. So, let us look at where the teams left league play.
The only team still undefeated in conference play is Harvard (7-0). Clarkson, who was undefeated in the league going into the weekend, dropped a game unexpectedly to Colgate. Cornell looked to be best poised to beat Clarkson going into the weekend, but a Colgate team (which Cornell beat by a cumulative score of 18-2) managed to drop a 2-1 decision to Colgate. The top of the league looks to be Harvard, Clarkson, and Cornell with Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence clawing their way up there as well. Could this be the first year in recent memory that Lynah doesn't host the ECAC finals? It is far too early to begin counting out the Lady Rouge. They have an excellent team with experience and enthusiasm. The Big Red will be come back building off this positive momentum when the season resumes in January.
Current National Standings:
Currently Cornell sits at number three in the polls and is in a three-way tie for third with Clarkson and BU in the Pairwise. The top ten in the polls presently are:
Three ECAC teams are in the top half of the top ten. When looking at which teams would make it in the tournament today via pairwise, we would have Minnesota, Harvard, Cornell, Clarkson, BU, Mercyhurst, BC, and North Dakota. Cornell sits amongst the top teams nationally in both polls and pairwise.
What's Coming Up:
This is the longest stretch of the season without games for the Lady Rouge. By the time games start up again, it will have been six weeks between games. The season starts up again with several non-conference games, two in Boston against Hockey East foes Northeastern and Boston College. Both should be tough, competitive games. The Big Red then host Syracuse mid-week before league play begins. The Big Red get another chance at Clarkson, this time in our own barn. League play continues through February with a late January tilt with CHA team Mercyhurst. Spring semester looks bright for the Big Red.
19 - Jenner
18 - Saulnier
12 - Rougeau
10 - Woods
9 - Cudmore
8 - Fortino, Gagliardi
7 - Fulton, Murray
6 - Brown, Campbell
5 - Zorn
4 - Barley-Maloney, Leck, Poudrier
1 - Pittens, Richardson, Slebodnick