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Women’s hockey falls to Cornell in ECAC semifinals, to face Minnesota in NCAA quarterfinals

<p>Photo Caption: Women's hockey against St. Lawrence in the ECAC quarterfinals.</p>
<p>Photo Credit: Owen Tedford / The Daily Princetonian</p>

Photo Caption: Women's hockey against St. Lawrence in the ECAC quarterfinals.

Photo Credit: Owen Tedford / The Daily Princetonian

This weekend, the No. 7 ranked women’s hockey team (20–7–5, 15–4–3 ECAC) lost to No. 5 Cornell (23–5–6, 17–3–2) in Ithaca in a double-overtime thriller. Cornell advanced to the ECAC final against No. 4 Clarkson (29–7–2, 16–5–1), whose team decisively defeated the Big Red 4–1 to clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Though the Tigers were unable to clinch the automatic bid by winning the ECAC postseason tournament, they were awarded an at-large bid and will travel to Minneapolis to face No. 2 University of Minnesota (30–5–1) in their first NCAA appearance since 2006.

Saturday’s game could not have started better for Princeton, as junior defender Claire Thompson scored on a Tiger power play goal, just under eight minutes into the first period. Princeton extended the lead when junior forward Carly Bullock made an excellent backhand shot over the shoulder of the Big Red goalie. Cornell then switched goalies about five minutes into the second period and put in a sophomore who had played just six games this season. Nonetheless, she shut out the Tigers.

Cornell scored one goal before the end of the second period, making the score 2–1 as the teams headed into the third, when the Big Red tied the game on a wrap-around goal. The game would remain even until Cornell’s goal 1:22 into the second overtime. The teams had one power play opportunity each, with the Tigers starting the first extra period on a skater-up advantage and then killing off a penalty later in the period.

Both teams had a number of opportunities to score, including when first-year forward Sarah Fillier nearly brought the puck to the goal, but no Princeton skater was there. Junior goalie Stephanie Neatby played great in net for the Tigers, making 36 saves on 39 shots.

Prior to Saturday’s games, on Friday night, the ECAC hosted its annual championship banquet, during which a number of Princeton players were recognized for their outstanding seasons. Fillier was named Rookie of the Year after leading the nation in points per game and being named Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year earlier in the week — the first time any player has received both honors in the same year. Fillier, along with first-year forward Maggie Connors and first-year defender Mariah Keopple, were three of the six players named to the All-Rookie team.

Fillier and Thompson were both named to the first team All-ECAC team; Connors, to the second team; and Bullock, to the third. Thompson was also a finalist for Best Defenseman award and senior defender Stephanie Sucharda was Princeton’s finalist for the Student-Athlete of the Year award.

Next weekend, the Tigers will travel to play the Golden Gophers in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday. Minnesota was ranked No. 1 in the rankings until they lost to Wisconsin the WCHA conference championship on Sunday. The Golden Gophers took this ranking earlier in the year after they beat Wisconsin. Minnesota will prove to be a tough test for the Tigers, but no one said the road to the title would be easy.

Be sure to check the website to see how to watch the game live. Live updates are also available on the Princeton Women’s Hockey Twitter (@PWIH).