An impressive run of three commanding victories came to a screeching halt on the ice of AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minnesota. Minnesota-Duluth played two complete games over the weekend. It was not its performance that was the most intriguing tale of the series. Absolute domination was the first game. The Big Red held the lead for only 1:52 of the entire two-game series. However, playing a team that managed to contain and control the Lady Rouge in ways that no team, including still undefeated Boston College, had the Big Red responded the next evening. The game may have ended in a 2-0 loss, but if there is a non-conference loss worthy of building on, it is that one. Cornell managed to take its game to a well honed team with a storied coach. The Big Red was not yet on that level, but as subsequent games proved, time remains for improvements before other meetings with such teams may occur. Improve, Cornell has.
After dropping two games to Minnesota-Duluth before its coaching woes, Cornell returned to Lynah for a rare Monday-Tuesday treat against familiar faces in the perennial season ender, Mercyhurst, and the Central New York foe, Syracuse. Mercyhurst was not able to wrestle a win from the Lady Rouge in the friendly confines of Lynah Rink that have seen too many recent wins by the Lakers. But at the same time, the Big Red was unable to drown the Lakers in one of the precious few out-of-conference games afforded to Cornell. A three-game winless skid brought back familiar early season worries, but they were thus far unfounded. After the bitter taste of a tie, the Lady Rouge responded with a resounding defeat of Syracuse before returning to ECAC Hockey play.
The Fall semester ended with the most difficult road trip of the season: the North Country. The Clarkson Golden Knights, reigning national champions, have had a Division I women's hockey team since the 2004-05 season. In all of that time, there is something that the women of Cornell have been unable to do: sweep the North Country on the road. 2010 saw Cornell reach the national championship game and come within one triple overtime bounce of beating Clarkson to the first eastern NCAA championship. That season saw only a single point squeezed from the North Country. In the winningest season of the women's program, 2011, Cornell went 31-3-1. That North Country trip previously had the most favorable outcome for the Lady Rouge since Clarkson joined the conference: a three-point weekend. This year, in the midst of adversity, as St. Lawrence remains a strong team and Clarkson attempts to defend its first national championship, Cornell made history. It swept the North Country on the road in two convincing victories: an 8-3 explosion of goals and a tight 4-2 come-from-behind win.
If nothing else convinced you that this 2014-15 edition was on track and had more than just potential, it should be the result in the North Country. Cornell has found a way to win in a variety of ways. Two come-from-behind victories. An eight-goal explosion behind Jess Brown's hat trick and four-point effort in Potsdam. Several tight victories. This Cornell team is poised to continue its success into the second half. It began 2015 with a 3-0 exhibition victory against McGill, the defending national champion of its league. Before the semester resumes, the North Country will begin to look for revenge at Lynah and BU will visit Ithaca for a one-off game. The fight for ECAC Hockey seeding has already begun but January and February will complete the ECAC Hockey regular season. Every point matters. Every game is important. Can this team win an Ivy League, regular season, and Championship? It certainly has shown the capacity to win important games and series. But only time will tell.