Two power-play goals made the difference for Cornell as the Big Red advanced to their seventh ECAC championship game in the last eight seasons with a 3-1 win over St. Lawrence.
Kristen O’Neill, who scored the first goal for Cornell, emphasized the importance of those power-play goals in setting the tone for Cornell.
“I think they gave us a lot of momentum. We came out really hard, so when we capitalized on those goals, it gave us a lot of confidence.”
O’Neill’s goal came late in the first period with just 2.55 remaining. The rookie from Oakville, Ontario, took a pass from Brianna Veerman and was able to fit a sharp-angle shot under the glove arm of Grace Harrison.
Brooke Webster had the lone goal for SLU, scoring her 24th of the season on a one-timer from in close, evening the score 1-1 3:29 into the second.
Cornell regained the lead quickly though thanks to Amy Curlew, who picked up the second power-play goal just 1:29 after Webster tied the game, tipping Micah Hart’s shot in the low slot past a screened Harrison.
“It was a chance for us to keep our energy up and get some momentum,” said Curlew of the importance of her goal coming so quickly after the Saints tied the game. “SLU was coming at us from every angle, and they’re a fast team, so it just helped us keep our momentum up.”
Rookie Paige Lewis found a loose puck at the side of the net and managed to fit a shot in the gap between Harrison’s pads, putting the Big Red up 3-1 with 4:48 remaining in the middle period, a lead they carried into the third. The Saints came after Cornell with everything they had in third period, outshooting the Big Red 8-0 and out-attempting them 33-5, but they could not solve Paula Voorheis, who finished with 31 saves.
“Our team did a great job of blocking shots, we probably blocked 20 shots in the last 6 minutes or so,” said Voorheis of the hectic third period. “I thought we played really good defense, and hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”
“I thought overall, our team played solid defense throughout the night, we had a big challenge with that big line that they have,” said Cornell coach Doug Derraugh.
“We played hard; sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug, and tonight, we were the bug,” said SLU coach Chris Wells. “If you told me we held Cornell to zero shots in the third period, I would have told you we had a pretty good chance of winning the game.”
Cornell will face Clarkson for the ECAC tournament title tomorrow at 2 p.m., while the Saints await their opponent in next week’s NCAA regional.