With the women’s hockey ECAC playoff picture set in stone — No. 5 St. Lawrence has secured home ice while Cornell and Yale missed the cut — this final weekend of regular season play remains to be a test of wills.
Yet the Bulldogs (3-21-2, 2-19-1 ECAC) will still take the long hike up north to face off against two New York rivals. Meeting them will be St. Lawrence, (20-6-3, 16-4-2) who is ready to do battle Saturday, and Cornell, (9-17-1, 6-15-1) who will be the Elis’ last challenge of the season Sunday.
“We hope that [the Cornell game] will be one of those good old-fashioned Ivy League games where you throw the records out the window, and you just play for the name on the jersey,” head coach John Marchetti said.
The last time St. Lawrence and Yale met was in January when the Saints dominated the Elis, outscoring them 5-1 in the first period. St. Lawrence went on to take a 9-3 win away from Ingalls Rink. But, as long as the Elis can avoid falling behind early, they should fare better this time around.
The Saints consistently open strongly, tallying the first goal in 24 out of 29 games and typically outscoring their competitors in the first stanza.
Opponents’ early goals have crippled the Bulldogs in the past, and keeping the St. Lawrence offense at bay will be key if Yale hopes to make a game of it. The Saints boast five skaters who have double digits in scoring.
Also standing in the way of the Bulldogs is one of the best rookie goalies in the league. Saint netminder Rachel Barrie is fourth in the nation with a save percentage of .933.
“This weekend will serve as a measuring stick on the year,” Marchetti said.
If Yale has any steam left after its first game, a victory over Cornell is well within reach. The Bulldogs would especially like to add another Ivy League win to cap the season. They notched their first Ivy win in October by defeating Princeton 3-1.
“Come Sunday afternoon, it will just come down to who has more energy,” Marchetti said.
Cornell has dropped its last three contests, and the Big Red is ranked 11th in the ECAC, only one spot above Yale.
Another factor playing to Yale’s advantage is the Big Red’s lackluster goal production. Cornell’s power play has lacked potency this year and should not pose a threat to Yale’s typically strong penalty killing unit.
“Cornell is a team we know we have the talent to beat so we are looking to win this weekend,” captain Lisa Meyers ’01 said. “But it’s going to take a much stronger effort than we displayed last weekend.”
Yale fell 2-0 to the University of New Hampshire and 5-1 to Maine this past Saturday and Sunday.
Yale and Cornell are very similar on paper, both teams having balance but lacking a dominant goal-scorer.
“We’re probably the two smallest teams in the league,” forward Deanna McDevitt ’03 said. “But they are very quick.”
McDevitt is the team’s second leading scorer behind Meyers, and she will need to live up to that distinction if the Bulldogs are to close the season on a high note.
“Although we fell short of our hopes to make the playoffs, we definitely have made strides that can’t go unrecognized this season,” Meyers said.