CANTON — Early season struggles on special teams hurt the St. Lawrence University women’s hockey team again in a 3-1 loss to Cornell on Friday night in the ECAC Hockey opening game for both teams in Appleton Arena.
Cornell, which was playing its first game of the season, scored two times in three power plays and held the Saints to just three total shots while killing three penalties.
After seven games this season the Saints (2-3-2 overall, 0-1 conference) are just 1 of 35 on the power play and have killed 19 of 26 penalties, a .731 success rate.
Last year the Saints scored on 16.8 percent of their power plays and owned a kill rate of 88 percent.
SLU coach Chris Wells knows that over the course of 35 games that the numbers will even out, but SLU is not finding the early success it achieved a year ago. Last year SLU didn’t lose its third game of the season until Jan. 20 and was 18-2-2 after that game.
“I thought we had a lot more possession and created some momentum and were able to get some good chances on all the power plays, but obviously that’s been a little bit of an Achilles heel for us in the early part of the season,” Wells said. “One of the nice things about special teams being the way it is, that’s one of the things that is fixable and we’ll fix it. We had some great chances. We’re right there. We are a good hockey team. You don’t go from a good hockey team to not being very good in one day. We are trying to find our way and get to our identity as fast as we can and each game brings that.”
The first period was defensive with SLU outshooting the Big Red 5-4. SLU’s best chance to score came at 9 minutes, 45 seconds of the period when Charlea Pederson took a shot from just outside the crease that went off the leg pad of Cornell goalie Marlene Boissonnault.
Cornell’s Kristin O’Neill picked up a holding penalty just 61 seconds into the second period and the Saints had another chance to score when Natalie Wozney found herself alone by the crease. But Boissonnault somehow got a glove on the shot and batted the puck away.
Cornell scored on its first power-play chance when defenseman Jaime Bourbonnais shot from the circle after a pass from O’Neill to give the Big Red a 1-0 lead at 7:47 of the second period.
SLU answered with an even-strength goal from Kayla Vespa at 12:29 to tie the game 1-1.
“We’re still coming around and we have a lot of new people on special teams this year, so I think it will come full-circle eventually,” said SLU forward Kalie Grant. “We had one good penalty and it changed the pace of the game in the second period, so we’re excited about it. We had a lot of chances today, so it’s exciting, and Vespa put it in the back of the net. That got the whole bench going. I think it will come around, we just have to wait and keep working at it.”
The score stayed that way until the Big Red went on the power play at 12:37 of the third period.
Freshman Madlynne Mills took a pass from Brianna Veerman and scored her first career goal at 13:18 to give Cornell the lead for good.
“It was pretty exciting,” Mills said. “I couldn’t have dreamed of something better. It was a great play by (Veerman) to get me the puck. She did everything. I was just in the right spot.”
The Big Red ended the scoring with an empty-net goal from Paige Lewis with 1:02 left in the game.
Cornell, which has played its last four games dating back to last season in either Appleton Arena or Cheel Arena, will play defending national champion Clarkson today at 3 p.m. at Cheel Arena.
“We knew this was going to be a tough weekend for us,” Cornell coach Doug Derraugh said. “We are obviously very excited to get a win against a great team like St. Lawrence. We knew it was going to come down to a couple breaks here or there and, fortunately, we were able to create our breaks at the end.”
COLGATE 4, CLARKSON 3 (OT)
Megan Sullivan scored a power-play goal 1:18 into overtime and the Raiders snapped Clarkson’s 24-game unbeaten streak in the ECAC Hockey opener for both teams at Cheel Arena. Clarkson had been 22-0-2 dating back to last season heading into Friday’s game.
The Raiders (7-0, 1-0) trailed 3-2 after two periods but tied the game 3-3 just 1:22 into the third period on a power-play goal from Malia Schneider.
Loren Gabel scored two goals for Clarkson (7-1-1, 0-1) and Cassidy Vinkle added the other goal for Clarkson.
Bailey Larson and Annika Zalewski, the younger sister of former Clarkson men’s standout Steve Zalewski, scored for Colgate.