Monday, January 31, 2011

Cornell Women Sweep Weekend, Remain Undefeated in League Play

The Cornell women’s ice hockey team continued their dominance over the rest of the league this past weekend with shutout wins over both Union College and RPI, winning by a combined score of 14-0.  Freshman goaltender Lauren Slebodnick got a nine-save shutout Saturday night against RPI to equal Katie Wilson’s job the night before.

“I’ve definitely had more shots in a game, but it’s a hard game to stay focused in,” said Slebodnick, “You kind of find your mind drifting, so you have to make sure you’re still in the game.”

Saturday night was time for Hayley Hughes and Brianne Jenner to shine, each recording two goals in the team’s 6-0 victory.  It took a penalty kill to get the scoring going, when Jenner opened the game with a shorthanded goal off a 3-on-1 rush for the Big Red.  Cornell went on to score three more goals within two minutes of each other to bury RPI before the first intermission.

“It was kind of embarrassing, the whole arena was quiet,” a laughing Hughes said of her second goal, which seemed to slip in without anyone noticing, “It was good though.”

The penalty kill was excellent on Saturday.  Not only did it score a short-handed goal, but the unit snuffed all three RPI power plays, but they killed over a minute of 5-on-3 time with under 4 minutes to go in the first that was RPI’s best chance to get back in the game with some momentum.

“I thought we played pretty solid throughout, from start to finish tonight,” head coach Doug Derraugh said after the win, “Great effort from everybody I thought.  One of our more complete efforts of the season I thought.”

When a team is this good and dominates the competition so much, the issue of being accused of “running up the score” definitely comes into question.  Cornell’s game is an aggressive one, and coach Derraugh is wary of the implications and possible consequences of “backing off.”

“You have to be careful with [backing off],” said Derraugh, “You want your team to keep playing hard and keep playing the right way.”

“One of the main things is to stay strong defensively,” added Hughes, “If we’re up 6-0, we can’t be giving away 2-on-1s and uneven chances.”

No one really seemed to know who Cornell would follow-up its success from last year.  Everyone seemed to sense this team was good, but they didn’t expect to be this dominant.  The players didn’t let those expectations get to their heads, either.

“Not really,” said Hughes when asked if she expected Cornell to be undefeated in league play this late in the season, “We just thought ‘It’s a new year and we’re going to start fresh.’  We had a lot of talented players coming in so we knew we were going to be a tough competitor in the league, but that didn’t stop us from putting out everything every game.  That’s just what we’ve done from the beginning.”

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