ITHACA, N.Y. – Jessica Campbell scored a breakaway, short-handed goal in the third period to give No. 4 Cornell the insurance they needed to come away with a 3-1 victory against No. 5 Harvard on Friday night in front of a stuffed Lynah Rink crowd of 2,182.
Cornell can win the Ivy League title for the fourth consecutive season with a victory against Dartmouth on Saturday.
“The crowd was unbelievable,” said Campbell, who also had Cornell’s second goal earlier in the third period. “All week we’ve been trying to get the hype up and try to pack Lynah, and I think we definitely did that. We had a lot of energy, but it all started with the crowd.”
Lauriane Rougeau had the Big Red’s first goal, and Erin Barley-Maloney assisted on all three. Lauren Slebodnick made 19 saves to earn her 18th win of the year.
Tied 1-1 at the start of the third period, Campbell struck on a phenomenal speed move around the outside of the Crimson defense eight minutes in to put the pressure on the visitors. With a roaring Big Red crowd cheering against them, the Crimson were unable to mount a comeback and Cornell moved to a perfect 13-0 on home ice this year.
“The crowd was something really special [Friday night],” Cornell head coach Doug Derraugh said. “It was great to see the Lynah faithful and the community here in Ithaca get behind this team. … [Friday night], they got treated to a real great hockey game.”
Cornell (21-5, 16-3 ECAC Hockey) came into the game first in conference play and one point ahead of Harvard (18-4-2, 14-2-1), but the victory extended the Big Red’s cushion to three points. The Crimson still have two games in hand over Cornell. Harvard can clinch home ice throughout the ECAC playoffs if it wins its remaining five conference games.
“After the game I told [defenseman] Laura Fortino, ‘I have shivers,’ because that’s how much I was excited about the game,” Rougeau said. “For me every game now counts. I don’t have that many left because I’m a senior, and for me this game was huge.”
The game-winning goal happened right as the Crimson took a faceoff from the left side of the offensive zone. With both team’s offensive leaders — Brianne Jenner and Jillian Dempsey — in the penalty box for coincidental roughing minors and Cornell’s Alyssa Gagliardi also sitting for slashing, Cornell had two minutes of 5-on-4 to kill. As the puck came away from the faceoff dot, it went into the left corner. From there, Fortino tried to clear the puck by wrapping it around the boards, and it bounced out to Barley-Maloney. By stretching her arm out, she chipped the puck behind the Harvard defender at the left point and sprung Campbell on the breakway.
Campbell did not miss with the breakaway chance, sniping the puck past Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer for the 3-1 lead that sent the Lynah faithful into a frenzy.
“[Barley-Maloney] made two unbelievable chip plays to me,” Campbell said. “I just got the puck and didn’t look back. I tried to put whatever I could on net.”
Six minutes prior, Campbell was again showcasing her speed. Taking a pass on the left wing from Barley-Maloney after a Harvard shot was blocked in Barley-Maloney’s direction, Campbell sped over the blue line and around the Crimson defense. She cut in toward goal, sneaking the puck over Maschmeyer’s right shoulder. The goal was the 30th of Campbell’s career.
“She’s so fast,” Barley-Maloney said of Campbell. “I don’t know if she’s the fastest player in the world, but that’s what I tell her.”
The second period saw Harvard’s only goal as Hillary Crowe took a drop pass from Samantha Reber and got the puck past Slebodnick to tie the game.
The Big Red took a 1-0 lead 6:51 into the first period, scoring just as a power play expired. Barley-Maloney had the puck down low on the left side of the offensive zone, and she kept the puck low with a pass to Taylor Woods. As Harvard’s Kaitlin Spurling left the box, Woods centered a pass through traffic. The puck wound up squeaking out to Rougeau, who blasted a shot from the top of the right circle. After bouncing off a Harvard player, the puck wound up past Maschmeyer and getting the Lynah crowd on its feet early.
“The puck just came out and I just took a big slapshot,” Rougeau said. “I saw an opening toward the left, and it hit Harvard’s player. I’ll take it.”
Friday was just the second time all season Maschmeyer gave up three goals in a game. She had 28 saves.
The teams entered the game as the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country on the penalty kill, and neither side allowed a power-play goal. Harvard was 0-for-6 with the man-advantage while the Big Red was 0-for-4.