ITHACA, N.Y. – A stuffed Lynah Rink crowd of 2,182 fell close to silent as No. 4 Cornell took a penalty with just six minutes to go and a tenuous one-goal lead against No. 5 Harvard.
Nineteen seconds later, the crowd was on its feet erupting with joy.
Jessica Campbell scored a breakaway shorthanded goal after Harvard won the faceoff, giving the Big Red the insurance it needed to come away with a 3-1 victory on Friday night. Cornell can now win the Ivy League title for the fourth consecutive season with a victory against Dartmouth on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“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 it, the Crimson was unable to mount a comeback and Cornell moved to a perfect 13-0 on home ice this year.
“The crowd was something really special tonight,” coach Doug Derraugh said. “It was great to see the Lynah Faithful and the community here in Ithaca get behind this team. … Tonight they got treated to a real great hockey game.”
Cornell (21-5, 16-3 ECAC Hockey) came into the night 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 has two games in hand over Cornell.
“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 five-on-four 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 Emerance Maschmeyer for the 3-1 lead that sent the Lynah Faithful into a frenzy. Campbell was also impeded on the play as she was nearly taken down from behind by Lyndsey Fry.
“[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 as she fell maintained her balance. The goal was the 30th of her career.
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