There are still seven games remaining in the regular season with difficult opponents coming up, but the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team went a long way in solidifying itself as the best team in ECAC Hockey with a 2-1 victory over Cornell before 542 fans at Cheel Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Winners of four straight and unbeaten in its last five games, the Golden Knights, ranked third in the country, own a 19-5-3 overall record and stand atop the ECAC Hockey standings with a 13-1-1 league mark. Clarkson, which plays at archrival St. Lawrence this coming Tuesday, is four points ahead of second-place Cornell (10-8-5, 9-2-5), and has a game in hand over the Big Red. Harvard, Princeton and Rensselaer are tied for third place, seven points behind the Knights, and all three have played one more game than Clarkson.
In a tight defensive game on Saturday, Clarkson came through with its first its first victory over the Big Red in four games with goals by freshman Danielle Skirrow (Trenton, ONT) and sophomore Brittany Mulligan (London, ONT), and a another solid effort in goal from junior Lauren Dahm (Baldwinsville, NY), who finished with 14 saves.
Mulligan broke a 1-1 deadlock early in the third period with the game-winning goal.
At 3:13 of the final stanza, Mulligan one-timed a pass in the slot from classmate Kali Gillanders (Kyle, SASK) for her fourth goal of the season. Senior defenseman Tegan Schroeder (Lumsden, SASK) also assisted.
The Knights weathered early pressure by Cornell, which was looking to extend its unbeaten streak to six games. The Big Red out shot the Green and Gold 4-0 through the opening seven minutes. Cornell's Lauriane Rougeau had the visitors'' best opportunity when she rang a shot off the far post at the 11-minute mark.
Clarkson found its stride midway through the first and jump on top late in the period.
Captain Britney Selina (Thornhill, ONT) came close to giving the Knights the lead when she hit the crossbar with a shot at 12:30.
With 2:08 remaining in the first, Skirrow tipped in a shot from the top of the left circle by Mulligan for the game's first goal. Skirrow's redirection floated over Cornell goaltender Amanda Mazzotta and just past the goal line for the rookie's first collegiate goal. Gillanders also assisted.
Clarkson came close to adding to its lead late in the second when junior Melissa Waldie (Newmarket, ONT) had two excellent chances. She was stopped on a point-blank shot by Mazzotta, and then had a shot go off the post.
Cornell's Laura Danforth almost tied it with 4:45 remaining in the middle frame, but Dahm made a stick save on her shorthanded breakaway shot.
With 39 second remaining in the second, Cornell's fourth-ranked power-play connected to make it a 1-1 game. Sophomore Catherine White lifted a shot just underneath the crossbar and over Dahm's shoulder for her seventh goal of the year. Classmate Chelsea Karpenko assisted on the goal, which snapped Dahm's shutout streak at 150 minutes.
Clarkson out shot Cornell 18-15. The Knights went 0-of-3 on the power play, while the Big Red were 1-of-2 with the man-advantage.