Women’s Hockey Rocks Cornell’s World

After nearly missing a weekend sweep of ECACHL opponents Clarkson and St. Lawrence, the Colgate women’s hockey team took out its frustration Wednesday against instate rival Cornell, vaulting the team into a tie for sixth place in the conference. The Raiders traveled to Clarkson to face-off against the Golden Knights in a game head coach Scott Wiley labeled “a must win.” Handling the pressure on the road, the Raiders came out strong, getting on the board first after senior Amanda Barre tipped junior defensemen Micki King’s shot, beating the Clarkson netminder at 6:11 of the first session. Junior Allison Paiano followed with a power-play goal six minutes later, with assists going to Barre and junior Becky Irvine. After a scoreless second, Paiano took passes from Barre and Irvine again before pounding home her own rebound, making the score 3-0 and putting the game out of reach for the home team. Although Clarkson scored with less than a minute to go, ruining senior Rebecca Lahar’s chance at her third shutout of the year, the preseason ECACHL Goalie of the Year sparkled in the net for Wiley’s squad. “Lahar played great for us once again,” Wiley noted. “She almost got the shutout, but a breakdown in our zone created a scoring opportunity for Clarkson.” Colgate seems to be improving in the first period, as it mustered two goals in the opening period. “We came out with all guns blazing,” Wiley explained. “We felt in order to win, we needed to get an early lead.” After the Clarkson win helped widen the gap between Colgate and the bottom of the conference, Saturday’s match-up against fifth-ranked St. Lawrence proved to be a difficult test for the 10-11-2 Raiders. After one goal in each of the first two periods by St. Lawrence, the Raiders found themselves down 2-0 heading into the third period. The veteran Barre, who has 45 goals in her Raider career, beat the St. Lawrence goaltender on the power-play just 3:46 of the third period. The goal, assisted by first-year Kara Leene and sophomore Tara French, seemed to be just the thing to bring Colgate back into the game. However, the Saints squelched any hope of a Raider comeback when they scored just 30 seconds later. The Saints would add one more before the final horn, taking the victory 4-1 on their home ice. Lahar finished with 36 saves, including 15 in the final period. First-year goalie Meaghan Guckian played beyond her years for St. Lawrence, stopping 23 of 24 Colgate shots. Even though the score wasn’t very favorable, Wiley was impressed with the Raiders’ play. “I thought it was a great game by both teams,” he said. “I think this was the best we’ve played since Brown [a 2-1 victory on January 7]. We might have won this game if we capitalized on more of our chances. We missed on a few breakaways and hit a few posts.” After the weekend series, Colgate hosted Cornell in a rare Wednesday night game in Starr Rink. Although the Big Red only amassed three victories coming into Wednesday night’s game, Wiley knew it would be important for Colgate to come out strong. “League points are critical because they provide solidity for the playoffs, [and so] our kids understood the importance of this game,” Wiley explained. “Having the game on television also is fun, too.” On a chilly Groundhog’s Day, the lowly Big Red were unable to crawl out of their hole, falling behind early after a surprising start by the Raiders. Barre started things off for the Raiders by beating the Cornell goalie 4:23 into the first, with assists from Irvine and Paiano. First-year Cassie Reid, Micki King and Barre would all score again before the period was over, giving Colgate a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Starting the period with a four-goal lead, their biggest of the season, Colgate seemed to lose its intensity, letting Cornell right back in the contest. Just 4:04 into the second period, a turnover in Colgate’s own zone set up Cornell’s first goal of the game. As if this was not bad enough, Cornell beat Lahar again just nine seconds later, as the first goal was being announced on the loudspeaker. The two early goals seemed to set the tone for the period, as Colgate failed to capitalize on multiple two-on-one breaks while Lahar was peppered with shots all period. Lahar seemed to single-handedly keep the Raiders in the game, turning away two scoring chances on the power-play, even playing without her stick for nearly a minute. The game got very chippy in the second, as Cornell not only sprayed shots at Lahar but also periodically sprayed ice on her after the whistle. This seemed to compel the 5’9″ Leene to protect her goalie by putting one of the Cornell players on her back, much to the delight of the crowd. However, as the game was getting out of hand, Wiley’s top line settled the game down, as Paiano scored at the 4:00 mark of the second, making it a 5-2 contest. After a power-play goal by Cornell just 56 seconds of the third session made it a 5-3 game, the line of Barre, Irvine and Paiano took charge, each scoring once to ice the game – and the Big Red – with an 8-3 victory. Barre netted a hat trick after a pretty backhand goal, the first hat trick of her career and the first hat trick in three years for the Raiders. The Raiders top line was the difference in the game, scoring six goals and combining for 15 points and a +14 rating. “We knew that, when we first got the big lead, these guys weren’t going to give up,” Wiley said after the game. “We had to be gung ho to keep our lead, keep our foot on the accelerator and not let up.” Following the impressive victory, in which the Raiders out-shot Cornell 38-27, Colgate heads into a two-game series against seventh-ranked Mercyhurst, who is 17-5-2 on the season. The Raiders and Lakers face off tomorrow at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Starr Rink.