ERIE, Pa. — Down 2-0 just 6:20 into the game, No. 3 Cornell fought back to take a 4-3 lead in the second period and eventually beat No. 6 Mercyhurst 5-4 on Friday night.
The Lakers tied the game at 4-4 just 3:24 into the third period on a shot that took a funny bounce up in the air, getting just under the crossbar and sneaking past Amanda Mazzotta.
It took another 15 minutes, but the Big Red (10-1) regained its lead and scored the game-winner with 2:30 to go. Emily Fulton began the play by taking the puck along the right boards. The freshman passed the puck to Catherine White higher up the boards, and White found defenseman Laura Fortino on the other side of the ice. Fortino, with no one near her, skated in before rifling a wrister past Hillary Pattenden.
The Big Red snapped the nation’s second-longest winning streak in the process, as the Lakers (10-3) came into the night on a nine game winning streak.
Mercyhurst stunned Cornell in the early going by getting on the board just 53 seconds into the contest on a breakaway goal by Bailey Bram. The senior took a long, arcing pass from Christine Bestland, skating in on Cornell goalie Lauren Slebodnick and beat her high on the glove side.
Less than five minutes later, the Lakers doubled their lead thanks to a goal by Jess Jones inside Slebodnick’s crease. Jones found herself in the right place at the right time, nudging the puck into the net after a shot by linemate Lauren Jones sat near the goal line. A scrum ensued between four different players, but Jess Jones wound up getting her stick on the puck from her knees to make it a 2-0 Mercyhurst lead.
Cornell got the boost it needed when Erin Barley-Maloney earned a penalty after getting checked by Gina Buquet late in the period. Just 21 seconds after the penalty, White connected on a slapshot through traffic from the right side of the blue line to cut Mercyhurst’s lead in half. The play was set up by tricky skating by Alyssa Gagliardi, who cycled behind the Lakers’ net then stopped, turned on a dime and found White open near the top of the zone.
When the second period began, Cornell went with Amanda Mazzotta in net. Mazzotta allowed one goal in the period and made 11 saves. But her offense picked it up in the period, scoring three goals to take a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
Mercyhurst’s second-period goal came on a bad break for the Big Red, as a shot by Christine Bestland was blocked by Cornell but slid perfectly to Kelley Steadman for the shot on an open net with five minutes elapsed.
Cornell got back almost immediately, though, as Johnston showed some impressive skills on a goal. The Olympic gold medalist took a pass from Brianne Jenner, skated into the zone on the left side, took the puck behind the net, came around front, hesitated and fired on a sharp angle over the left shoulder of Pattenden.
Big Red senior co-captain Chelsea Karpenko then tied the game four minutes later on her 11th goal of the year. On the power play, Jillian Saulnier passed to Hayleigh Cudmore on the blue line. Cudmore found Karpenko on the left side, and her shot wound up sneaking in under the post.
Cornell then took its first lead of the night with 3:23 left in the period on Karpenko’s second of the night. With some tape-to-tape passing by Jenner and Johnston, Karpenko took a quick attempt on net that rebounded right to her. The senior chipped the puck over Pattenden, and the Big Red took the lead.
That set up the tense final period, where Mercyhurst scored early but Cornell controlled most of the play. The Big Red took 12 shots in the third period to the Lakers’ five, and Fortino’s late shot wound up being the one that mattered most.