The women’s hockey team (4-7-1, 2-4-0 Eastern College Athletic Conference) continued its struggles against nationally ranked opposition Saturday, losing to No. 10 Cornell (7-3-2, 5-2-1) 4-2 after conceding three unanswered goals in the third period.
The Bears have now lost seven of their last eight games, with all defeats coming against nationally ranked teams.
“We know what our league is and we know the direction we’re going as a program,” said Head Coach Melanie Ruzzi. “I’m not frustrated because I thought we played really well.”
The Bears weathered early attacking pressure from Cornell. Seven minutes into the game, Brown goalie Kaley Doyle ’24 denied a golden opportunity from the Big Red in a two-on-one situation.
Doyle made 11 saves during the first period, which allowed forward Jade Iginla ’26 to put the Bears ahead while shorthanded with 90 seconds until intermission. With Sonja Bjornson ’23.5 serving a hooking penalty, Iginla poked the puck away from a Cornell defender in the Brown defensive zone and jumped out on a breakaway. Still all alone after reaching the attacking zone, she subtly faked a shot before dragging it to her backhand and lifting it over Cornell goalie Deanna Fraser’s outstretched pad.
“I was just trying to be in the lane to block a shot and I could see her on the backhand,” Iginla said, referencing the steal that led to her goal. “Just a little poke check and I’m off to the races.”
Shortly after Iginla’s goal, Doyle was pressed into action once more. With Doyle caught off balance after lunging to her left expecting a shot that never came, Cornell skater McKenna Van Gelder seemingly had a wide-open net. But Doyle, falling to her stomach, lifted her pad to deny Van Gelder’s attempt.
Doyle was busy throughout the second period as well, making 14 saves, but it was the Bears who scored the period’s first goal, which came with just 1:08 left. It was again Iginla who found the back of the net, but this time with Brown on the power play. A shot from defender Cameron Sikich ’25 rebounded off Fraser and found its way to Iginla, who slotted it into the open net for her team-leading seventh goal of the season.
“She’s been an important cog for our offensive side especially. To step in as a freshman and play the center position is tough. She’s adapted well, she’s strong, she’s skilled, she has a sense of the game and she’s growing every game,” Ruzzi said.
But Brown didn’t keep their two-goal cushion for long. Off the immediate faceoff, Cornell forward Izzy Daniel found herself all alone on the right wing and, receiving a pass in the neutral zone from forward Gillis Frechette, skated into the attacking zone and lasered a wrist shot that bounced off the post and into the goal past Doyle. The goal came just 10 seconds after Iginla’s second.
“At times we made some young mistakes, particularly after we scored the second goal to create some separation. We win the faceoff, and instead of getting it over the redline and getting it deep, we flub the puck and turn it over and that’s how they score,” Ruzzi said. “And that’s a maturity thing. Those are learning moments that are really important for this team.”
The Big Red was dominant in the final period, allowing Brown only three shots on goal. In the middle of the period, Cornell tied the game, took the lead and added an insurance goal in just a five-minute span.
The first came on a shot from Daniel and Frechette’s linemate, forward Lily Delianedis, that made its way through heavy traffic in front of Doyle into the back of the net.
Less than two minutes later, Delianedis struck again, tipping in a pass from defender Alyssa Regalado at point blank range.
Finally, Daniel matched Delianedis’ two goals by lifting a shot over Doyle’s shoulder off a centering pass from Frechette.
“I could be better,” Doyle said of her 36-save performance in net. “You can’t give up four goals against that team. You’re not going to win. But it’s just little things, trying to control rebounds as best I can (and) limit those second chances.”
The Bears will get a break from their schedule of ranked opponents next week, facing off against Union College (8-6-1, 3-3-1) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (4-13-1, 0-6-1), but Ruzzi still expects difficult games.
“We’re in a bit of a tough conference, one of the toughest in the nation, so there is no let-up. One through 12 in the ECAC is going to be tough,” Ruzzi said. “Are we where I want to be? No. But am I happy with our development from day to day? Absolutely.”