Potsdam, NY – In a matchup of two teams bound for the NCAA Tournament next weekend, the 2nd/3rd-ranked Clarkson University Women's Hockey team fell to 5th-ranked Cornell University Big Red 1-0 on Sunday afternoon in the ECAC Hockey Women's Championship at Cheel Arena.
Cornell wins their fourth ECAC Tournament Championship and improves to 24-5-4 while Clarkson comes up just short and drops to 28-5-5. The loss is the first for the Knights since losing to North Dakota on December 6th. Clarkson had been 16-0-3 in its previous 19 games.
Clarkson, the number three seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, will host Boston College at Cheel Arena on Saturday, March 15 at 4:00 p.m.
Cornell had a scoring chance seven minutes into the game when Jillian Saulnier brought the puck up the left wing and rifled a shot on net that rang the crossbar and bounced over the Clarkson net. The Knights had multiple opportunities near the midway point of the period, but Cornell goaltender Lauren Slebodnick stopped chances from sophomores Shannon MacAulay (Mt. Herbert, PEI) and Cayley Mercer (Exeter, ONT) to keep the game scoreless.
The Big Red would strike first at 14:27 in the first period when Caroline DeBruin entered the Clarkson zone and found Cassandra Poudrier at the blue line on the right side. Poudrier brought the puck toward the middle of the ice and fired a slap shot by a screened senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) and ricocheted off the left post and into the net. Kaitlin Doering also assisted on the play. The goal is the first allowed by Howe in the last 211:03 minutes and marks the first time the Knights have trailed since giving up a first period goal to Rensselaer on February 1st in an eventual 5-1 victory.
A chippy start to the second period forced Howe to make some impressive saves as Cornell attacked the Clarkson goal over and over in the first 10 minutes. Using the glove, blocker, and body, Howe came up big to keep the Knights' deficit to just one goal.
The Knights were unable to get much going offensively in the second period but started to gain momentum toward the end of the period. Clarkson outshot Cornell 7-4 in the period and the defense kept the Cornell offense at bay for much of the second half of the period.
The Knights killed off an early tripping penalty in the beginning of the third, but Clarkson continued to struggle on the offensive end. Taylor Woods got behind the Clarkson defense five minutes into the period and had a clear path to the goal, but Howe made a sprawling save to turn the puck away and deny the freshman.
Clarkson would be on the penalty kill again with 13 minutes to play and denied Cornell for the second time in the game. An icing call against Slebodnick when the Big Red was attempting to change lines aided the Knights' defensive effort.
Senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) had a scoring chance with under nine minutes to play as she gained control at the right circle, but her wrist shot went wide of the net.
A tripping penalty against Cornell with just under four minutes to play gave Clarkson chances, but Carly Mercer missed a shot wide and Slebodnick was able to prevent any long rebounds around the net.
The Knights pulled Howe with one minute to play but were unable to get a good shot on net in the final 60 seconds.
Clarkson outshot Cornell 26-20 and dominated in the faceoff circle 36-15 but failed to capitalize on three power-play chances. Howe recorded 19 saves on the afternoon and allowed only one goal in four playoff games this season.
Most Outstanding Player:
Jillian Saulnier, Cornell
F- Jillian Saulnier, Cornell
F- Shannon Shannon MacAulay, Clarkson
F- Miye D'Oench, Harvard
D- Cassandra Poudrier, Cornell
D- Alyssa Gagliardi, Cornell
G - Lauren Slebodnick, Cornell