TROY, NY – The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) women’s ice hockey team will make its third straight appearance in the ECAC Hockey playoffs this weekend, heading to Ithaca, N.Y., for a best-of-three quarterfinals against Cornell. The Engineers, who are in their fifth season as a member of ECAC Hockey, enter as the eighth-seed and will play the top-seeded Big Red, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Lynah Rink. Game times for Saturday and Sunday’s (if necessary) contests are scheduled for 4 p.m.
Under the direction of eighth-year head coach John Burke, Rensselaer owns a 10-16-7 overall record with an 8-12-2 mark in ECAC Hockey play. The Engineers feature six players who have reached double-figures in points this season, led by sophomore winger Taylor Horton (St. Thomas, ON/Bluewater Jr. Hawks) with 23 points on a team-best 12 goals and 11 assists.
Horton currently ranks 13th nationally with four game-winning goals and has recorded a team-best four power play markers. She is also the team leader in conference points, boasting nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in 22 ECAC Hockey contests. All of her power play goals have come against league opponents.
Rookie Jordan Smelker (Anchorage, AK/Team Alaska 19U) is second on the squad with 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points. She also leads the team with four goals scored on the power play and has both a game-winning and game-tying tally to her credit this season. In 22 ECAC Hockey contests, she has eight goals and seven assists for a 15 points. Smelker currently ranks 24th nationally in points per game by a rookie (0.58 average).
In goal, junior Sonja van der Bliek (Toronto, ON/Toronto Jr. Aeros) has seen the majority of time, posting a 10-16-4 overall record with an 8-12-2 ECAC Hockey mark. She has a 2.73 goals against average and a .894 save percentage in 1693:05 minutes of action. She has 649 saves, including five games with at least 30 stops. van der Bliek is the program’s all-time career record holder in a number of categories, including games played (115), games started (113) and wins (52-48-15).
Friday’s contest marks the Engineers’ third of the season against the Big Red, who are 26-2-1 overall, 20-1-1 in league play. In the first meeting (Jan. 14), freshman Jessica Campbell tallied a goal and added three assists as Cornell cruised to a 6-1 win at the Houston Field House. The re-match at Lynah Rink on January 29 saw rookie Brianne Jenner net a pair of goals as the Big Red blanked the Engineers, 6-0.
Live stats will be at http://livestats.internetconsult.com/cornell/whockey/index.htm while live video can be found at http://www.cornellbigred.com/showcase/#liveevents. Saturday and Sunday’s games can also be followed live courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM WRPI, or log on to www.wrpi.org.