The St. Lawrence University women's hockey team battled nationally-ranked No. 3 Cornell University at Appleton Arena on Saturday afternoon with a fast-paced, back-and-forth affair. Though the Saints cut their deficit to one at 3-2 in the third period, the Big Red tacked on an empty netter to clinch the ECAC Hockey victory, 4-2.
Cornell snaps its first two-game losing streak since January of 2010, improving to 10-3-0 (8-2-0), while the Saints fall to 8-7-1 (6-2-0) after matching the visitors in shots, 24-24.
"That was a very similar game as in years past at Appleton with Cornell, as they got an early lead and we slowly clawed back into the game and got some good chances," said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells. "They do such a good job of blocking shots and taking away space at crucial times in the game."
The Big Red penalty kill unit was solid in the contest, holding the Scarlet and Brown to a 1-for-9 mark with the extra skater. St. Lawrence also did an excellent job against one of the nation's top power plays, posting a perfect mark on the kill (0-for-5).
Cornell owned the majority of chances in the first period, finishing with an 11-6 advantage on shots and putting consistent pressure on goaltender Carmen MacDonald. Brianne Jenner's ninth goal of the year opened the scoring at 8:57 off a beautiful passing play by the Big Red, while Anna Zorn capitalized on a turnover in the offensive zone to make it 2-0 at 17:51. It was the second goal of the season for Zorn, who lifted a wrist shot past MacDonald's glove.
Despite being held in check throughout most of the first period, St. Lawrence got one back in the final minute on the power play, as junior Rylee Smith's sharp-angle shot along the goal line bounced off the leg pad and behind goaltender Lauren Slebodnick at 19:28. The goal, which capped the first period scoring at 2-1, was Smith's sixth of the year and was assisted by Brooke Fernandez and Amanda Boulier.
The second period was marred by penalties, as the team's combined for seven minor calls in under 10:00 minutes. After Cornell was able to kill off four power plays for the home team, Jessica Campbell came out of the penalty box and scored only seconds later on a breakaway try on MacDonald. It was her fourth goal of the year and was assisted by Erin Barley-Maloney and Lauriane Rougeau.
St. Lawrence, which played a strong second period, continued to thrive in the third, finishing with a 12-9 edge in shots on goal. The Saints would make it a game at 10:50, as rookie Abbey McRae one-timed a shot past Slebodnick from just outside the crease. The play was set up thanks to a beautiful pass from behind the net from Smith for her eighth assist of the year.
Though St. Lawrence continued to pressure the goaltender and earned a power play in the final minutes, the Big Red were able to defend Slebodnick and add an empty netter to ice the game with 1:14 remaining. Barley-Maloney scored the goal, while Jenner and Campbell had the assists.
"Cornell is always a great team to judge your own team against, and we saw some great efforts on our end," added Coach Wells. "I think that effort will pay huge dividends throughout the second half of the season."
Slebodnick closed with 22 saves in the game, while MacDonald had 20 stops.
St. Lawrence will complete play in the opening semester next weekend when it hosts Penn State for the first time in University history. The Saints and Nittany Lions will square off in a non-conference doubleheader on Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8 at 7:00pm and 2:00pm, respectively.