HAMILTON, N.Y. — Most people never forget their first career goal. Fewer forgot their first career hat trick. For Cornell freshman Jillian Saulnier, the memory of both should be vivid.
In her first career game, Saulnier scored two goals in the first period, another in the second and one more in the third to lead No. 3 Cornell to a 6-2 victory in its season and conference opener at ECAC Hockey rival Colgate on Tuesday night.
Saulnier’s four-goal night was the first for Cornell since Jessica Campbell scored four against Robert Morris in the second game of last season.
The Big Red (1-0, 1-0 ECAC Hockey) won its third consecutive ECAC opening game and its second consecutive season opener. Coach Doug Derraugh earned his 90th career victory, and the starting forward line of Saulnier, Rebecca Johnston and Brianne Jenner combined for five goals and four assists.
Saulnier wasted little time scoring her first career goal. The freshman was out on the Big Red’s first power play and scored the team’s opening goal. When fellow freshman Emily Fulton wrapped around the net and tried to push a shot past Colgate keeper Kimberly Sass, the puck bounced out into the middle of the ice, and Saulnier was there for the rebound goal.
Only 2:10 later, Saulnier struck again. Laura Fortino and Jenner set her up with terrific passing, and Saulnier stepped into a slap shot in the high slot for her second goal of the night.
The first period continued to get better for Cornell as its four-on-four unit got some successful work in when it scored the third goal of the frame. Thanks to a nice pass from Amanda Young up ice to Johnston, the Big Red had a two-on-one breakaway. Johnston waited until the last moment and then found Jenner with a cross-ice pass for an easy put-away and Cornell’s third goal of the period.
The second period was penalty-laden for both sides as the referees got a chance to use their whistles, calling eight penalties.
One of those penalties was by Saulnier, who committed a five-minute cross checking major. When Catherine White went into the box 24 seconds later, it set up a five-on-three for the Raiders that led to their first goal. The Big Red killed off more than a minute of the five-on-three and looked strong, but when goalkeeper Amanda Mazzotta went down to grab a loose puck at her feet, a stick nudged it back into play and Taylor Volpe went far post into the open net.
But the Raiders neutralized the rest of Saulnier’s long penalty by committing two of their own, setting up nearly two straight minutes of four-on-three hockey that culminated in a goal by senior captain Chelsea Karpenko. Fellow senior Catherine White and sophomore Hayleigh Cudmore earned the assists on the goal that put the Big Red up 4-1.
Fresh out of the penalty box, Saulnier got back into her coach’s good graces when she scored a short-handed goal that was beautifully set up by Cudmore and Johnston. Saulnier and Johnston had a two-on-one, and Johnston found the freshman to her left for another easy put-away. The goal was Saulnier’s third on just three shots.
Colgate (3-3, 0-1) stayed strong though and scored with just 33 seconds showing on the clock in the period to make it a 5-2 game at the second intermission.
Saulnier’s goal in the final period may have been the most impressive. Jenner passed to Lauriane Rougeau on the blue line, and the junior defender took a hard slapshot that was going high. Saulnier, standing in the front of the night, held her stick aloft and deflected the puck down past Sass.
At night’s end, Cornell held a giant 64-12 advantage in shots on goal and a 53-27 margin on faceoffs. That number was the most shots the Big Red took since Feb. 6, 2000 against Union.
Mazzotta made 10 saves and ends the first game of the year with a 2.004 goals against average.