Comeback Kids: Big Red women stun St. Lawrence to advance to ECAC semifinals

March 1, 2015 by Mark H. Anbinder

After Cornell women's hockey won the first game of a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series on Friday night, St. Lawrence leapt out to a 2-0 lead in Saturday afternoon's game. But it wasn't over.

On Friday night, after a scoreless first period for both teams, junior Cassandra Poudrier got Cornell on the board first, and the Saints didn't score until early in the third period, tying things up. Junior Jess Brown scored the eventual game-winner shortly after, and with just seconds left in the third, the Saints having pulled their goaltender for an extra skater, the Red had a breakaway opportunity, senior Brianne Jenner passing to Jillian Saulnier for an empty-netter to seal the victory.

Saturday, the Saints scored midway through the first and just seconds into the second period, and took their 2-0 lead into the second intermission. The unfriendly statistic: St. Lawrence was 15-0-2 this season when leading after two periods.

St. Lawrence senior netminder Carmen MacDonald, who became the Saints' all-time saves leader earlier this month, had an outstanding weekend, with 30 saves on Friday night and 23 more on Saturday afternoon, and certainly stymied Cornell for the first 40 minutes of the second game. It was beginning to look as though the series would go to a third game, to be held on Sunday afternoon.

It was junior Anna Zorn who finally tallied for Cornell, taking a breakaway up the ice and scoring, unassisted, less than three minutes into the third. It was just her second goal of the season. "I've always been confident in my shot," Zorn said. "Just needed to get the monkey off my back last weekend," when she notched her first of the season at Union. 

Zorn's tally sparked several minutes of fast-paced action, with scoring chances in both directions. About five minutes later, after a flurry of activity around MacDonald, Jillian Saulnier took a pass from Brianne Jenner and popped a one-timer into the net to tie the score.

Cornell took its first lead of the night with 3:18 left in the third as Saulnier centered the puck towards fellow senior Emily Fulton, who slammed it past MacDonald. "It was just a great play by Jill," Big Red alum and head coach Doug Derraugh said after the game. "She was so patient with the play, and Emily made no mistake in hammering home that shot. I'm sure it was a memorable game for all three seniors."

St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells again pulled his team's goaltender with about two minutes remaining, but the Saints were unable to catch up.

Ironically, the win sends the Big Red to the North Country for the remainder of the ECAC tournament, which will be hosted a few miles from St. Lawrence at Cheel Arena on the campus of Clarkson University. Cornell will face the Golden Knights in one of two semifinals next weekend, at the site of their championship win over Clarkson a year ago. The two will face off at 1pm Saturday in the first of two semifinal games; Harvard and Quinnipiac are in the late game. A championship game will be held on Sunday, between the winners of the two semifinal games. The tournament will be broadcast on ESPN3, which can be viewed online at ESPN3.com or with the free WatchESPN app for tablets and phones.

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