Replacing offense a challenge at Cornell

Cassandra Poudrier (Cornell - 5). (Shelley M. Szwast)
With its top three scorers gone to graduation, Cassandra Poudrier will look to make Cornell’s defense a focus. (Shelley M. Szwast)

Cornell Big Red
USCHO prediction: Fourth
Coaches’ prediction: Fourth
Last season: Fourth (tie) (19-11-3, 14-6-2 ECAC)

The names
This season begins a new era in Ithaca, N.Y. For the first time since Cornell began advancing to the NCAA tournament, the roster doesn’t include anyone with Frozen Four experience.

This promises to be a different type of Big Red squad than we’ve been accustomed to seeing coach Doug Derraugh put on the ice, particularly with the graduation of its star-studded top line featuring Brianne Jenner, Jillian Saulnier, and Emily Fulton.

Cornell assistant coach Edith Racine said you don’t fill such big shoes right away and the scoring role will need to be taken on by a group.

Among the forwards, the leading returnees are seniors Jess Brown and Taylor Woods, both of whom posted 20 points in the last campaign.

The blue line, where Racine says Cornell has experienced seniors and is deep, figures to be an area of strength. Derraugh will look to captain Cassandra Poudrier and classmate Morgan Richardson to anchor the unit, which is bolstered by the addition of redshirt freshman Sydnee Saracco and true freshman Micah Hart.

The Big Red return three goaltenders, with junior Paula Voorheis getting over 90 percent of the minutes last year. Freshman Marlene Boissonnault joins the mix after playing on Canada’s U-18 team last January.

The numbers
Last year broke a string of five straight seasons of at least 20 wins, as the Big Red came up one victory shy. It also ended a run of five consecutive trips to the NCAAs; Cornell was one game short there as well.

Over their careers, Jenner, Saulnier, and Fulton combined to score 231 goals. The 13 skaters who return this year have played a combined 842 games and scored 114 goals.

The prognosis
Roster changes suggest that Cornell will quickly go from a team that featured an offense that could explode at any minute but was fairly average defensively, to one that will live and die based on how well it can clamp down in its own end. The quality of some of those on the back end suggests that the Big Red will hang onto a home ice spot come playoff time.

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