Cornell women's ice hockey grabbed the lead with under two minutes remaining on a Jessica Campbell power play goal on Sunday afternoon, and held on to top Harvard 2-1 and win their third ECAC championship in program history -- and their third in just four years. The women, ranked second in the country, advance to the NCAA tournament with a quarterfinal matchup against Mercyhurst this Saturday.
Sunday's final was just one of a weekend pair of nailbiters at Lynah Rink this past weekend. To face Harvard, Cornell first had to face defending ECAC champs St. Lawrence, who had knocked off the Big Red at Lynah last season to take the championship. The Big Red and the Saints were tied 2-2 going into the third period in Saturday's semifinal, but a Taylor Woods goal with 1:38 to go put Cornell ahead, and Brianne Jenner cemented the win with an empty-netter. "I can't imagine anyone's leaving disappointed with the excitement in that game," said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Wells.
Woods, credited with a hat trick in Saturday's semifinal, said of postseason play after Saturday's game, "If you think you're going 100% you need to go a little harder, because someone's right on your back."
On Sunday, Cornell again entered the third period with a tie score, 1-1 on a pair of first-period goals for Cornell and the visiting Crimson, in third-color black jerseys. Campbell's power play goal both ended Harvard netminder Emerance Maschmeyer's 21-penalty-kill streak and put the Big Red ahead with just 1:40 to go in regulation. It was Campbell's second game-winner against Harvard this season; she tallied a pair against the Crimson on February 15th, including that afternoon's game-winner. Despite the loss, Harvard, which also fell in last year's final, will play Boston College in a quarterfinal this weekend.
Many of the 2,400-some fans in attendance at Lynah Rink stuck around after the Cornell win to watch the ECAC championship trophy ceremony. "Two great teams today and an exciting finish," said Big Red head coach Doug Derraugh. "You couldn't ask for more in a championship game."
The Big Red will host eighth-seeded Mercyhurst at Lynah Rink in a 1pm game. Cornell shut out the Lakers 4-0 when they came to a regular-season game at Lynah earlier this winter, though Mercyhurst holds an all-time series lead, 13-5-1. The winner advances to the Frozen Four, taking place later this month in Minneapolis. Cornell advanced to last year's Frozen Four, beating Boston University in triple overtime in an NCAA quarterfinal game at home, before falling to the University of Minnesota in a Frozen Four semifinal.
Senior captain Lauriane Rougeau, who notched the overtime gamewinner for Cornell against BU last March, says, "If we keep playing our style of hockey, aggressive, fast, and believe in ourselves, we can make it."
When the puck drops at 1pm this Saturday, Cornell will be on spring break, and the team hopes many of the locals among its Lynah Faithful contingent will be on hand to help make up for absent students. It's the last home game of the season at Lynah, regardless. The men are on the road this weekend for an ECAC quarterfinal series at Quinnipiac.
Tickets are available at cornellbigredtickets.com for $6 per ticket, $5 for seniors and $4 for children, and video of the game will be available for free on Cornell's Redcast service at cornellbigred.com. Saturday's winner will advance to a semifinal against the winner of this weekend's Boston University vs Clarkson quarterfinal.