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Rougeau's Triple-Overtime Game-Winner Sends Cornell Women's Hockey to Frozen Four

Photo and story courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Fourteen goals were scored in three periods, both teams came back from three goals down, and neither of those facts were the craziest part of Saturday afternoon's NCAA women's hockey quarterfinal at Lynah Rink.

In what was the longest game in program history – beating out the 2010 National Championship Game by 25 seconds -- Cornell defeated Boston University 8-7 with 10 seconds left in overtime thanks to a one-on-three goal by defenseman Lauriane Rougeau.

The goal, just her sixth of the season, clinched a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in Duluth, Minn., next weekend. Cornell will play No. 2 seed Minnesota in the Frozen Four's early game.

Rougeau's goal came as she picked up the puck in her own defensive zone, then stepped past one defender as she crossed the blue line. One more defender got in her way, but with time ticking down in the overtime period, Rougeau made the play of Cornell's season when she beat Terriers goalie Kerrin Sperry between the legs after blowing past that second defender.

“I saw an opening and I went for it,” Rougeau said. “I knew there wasn't a lot of time left on the clock, and even though they were three and I was one, I'm just going for it. I just past her, and it just happened. I was behind the net, I found out I scored, and I was happy.”

That goal set off a wild celebration, sparking the entire Big Red bench to empty and eliciting a joyous cheer from the season-high 2,143 fans in attendance. The game, which lasted 119 minutes and 50 seconds, was just 10 seconds shy of being two full games worth of hockey.

“I'm not sure what to say with a game like that,” coach Doug Derraugh said. “I played 13 years professionally, I've been coaching seven years now, and I don't think I've been involved with a game as crazy as that one, to be honest.”

The win avenged a 4-1 loss to Boston University in last season's Frozen Four and also made Cornell 3-0 this season against the Terriers after defeating them 3-1 and 7-1 on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Cornell (30-4) now has 30 wins for the second consecutive year and second time in program history.

The day's first 60 minutes could not have been any different from the final 60. Boston University got the first three goals of the game all in the first period, and Cornell caught the Terriers before the second period was only four minutes old.

It took Boston University just more than five minutes of Saturday's game to equal the two goals it scored on Cornell in the previous 120. Marie-Philip Poulin, who didn't play in either game over Thanksgiving break, got things started for the Terriers just 4:35 into the game when she took a centering pass from Isabel Menard and finished past Big Red starting goalie Amanda Mazzotta.

Thirty-four seconds later, a scramble in front of the net left the puck on Kayla Tutino's stick, and her shot appeared to be stopped at first but squirted through the legs of Mazzotta to make it 2-0.

Eleven minutes passed with the Big Red come close to scoring, but the Terriers got the third goal of the game when Kasey Boucher buried a passed from Poulin in a play very similar to the first Boston University goal. Both goals began with outlet passes from center ice by Tutino.

But with just 45 seconds to go in the period, the Big Red got on the board. Left wing Jessica Campbell blocked a Boston University shot, and the puck bounced off her shins to start a breakaway. Campbell, one of the team's fastest skaters, raced ahead of two BU players and buried the puck five hole past Sperry, also drawing a hooking penalty in the process.

Cornell changed goalkeepers after the first period, opting for sophomore Lauren Slebodnick in place of Mazzotta. The goalies split time during the season, and Slebodnick had the country's second-lowest goals against average coming into the game. She played her role in overtime, and her evening started in the second period.

Campbell's goal started a massive Big Red comeback. With the hooking penalty drawn, Cornell began the second period on the power play. Just 10 seconds into the frame, senior Rebecca Johnston went to the right side of the goal, went backhand to forehand and beat a sprawling Sperry to make it 3-2. After a brief video review, the goal was upheld.

Then, just three and a half minutes later, Johnston struck again. The captain, in her last game at Lynah Rink, took a pass in front from Jillian Saulnier and buried, tying the game for only the first time in the game.

Less than a minute later, Cornell took its first lead. On a delayed penalty, Johnston kept the puck inside the offensive zone and lifted it high into the air as Slebodnick left the ice. Catching the puck was Saulnier, and she went behind the net where she found Laura Fortino in front. Fortino had a gaping net, and chipped the puck home to give the home team a 4-3 advantage.

Poulin got the Terriers back into the game at the 15:01 mark of the second period after a bad Big Red turnover in its own defensive zone. The turnover was caused by Louise Warren, who slotted the puck to Poulin for the goal past Slebodnick.

But 67 seconds later, the Big Red was back on top as Jenner scored her 19th goal of the season. Taking a pass in front from Johnson, she fed the puck through traffic and Cornell was back on top. Saulnier earned her fourth assist of the period on that goal.

The third period started even better for Cornell, as Johnston got her hat trick goal. Stealing the puck from the Terriers right in front of their net, Johnston turned and fired past Sperry for her third of the game. A solitary hat came onto the ice as the home crowd roared and Cornell had a 6-4 lead.

Six minutes after that, Jenner made it 7-4 when Amanda Young took a shot at the right point and it was blocked by a Terriers player. The bounce went right to Jenner, who shot it too hard for Sperry to stop. The puck bounced off the goal and in, and the Big Red's lead was three with just under 14 minutes to go.

Then the whistles started coming. Boston University got three power play opportunities in the final 11 minutes of the third period and converted on all of them, deflating the home crowd to send the game to overtime.

The first overtime saw one penalty called on each team, but neither was able to convert. Boston University held a 14-9 advantage in shots on goal in the period, but the teams each attempted 24 shots total.

The second overtime came and went as well, passing the 98-minute mark set by the men's hockey team less than 24 hours earlier and making this contest the longest in Lynah Rink history. Cornell was outshot 6-5 in the second overtime, but again the goalies stood their ground.

A Fortino shot from the blue line appeared to come close to going in, and play was stopped to review the shot, but the referees' decision of no goal was upheld. Late in the period, Slebodnick made a season-saving stop on an Isabel Menard breakaway.

That set the stage for a dramatic third overtime, where Cornell hit the post four times and had two failed power play opportunities before Rougeau's thrilling game-winner.

Johnston finished the evening with three goals and an assist while Saulnier had four assists. Jenner had two goals and an assist while Alyssa Gagliardi also had two assists.

The 15 goals scored in the game were the most of any Big Red game this season and the most since an 11-4 loss to Brown on Nov. 20, 1993. By itself, though, Cornell had scored more than eight goals three times this season.

Cornell remains perfect in games after a loss (4-0), holds an out-of-conference record of 10-2 and is once again.500 all time with a lifetime record of 451-451-50.

The Big Red now prepares for Minnesota. The Gophers defeated North Dakota 5-1 in another quarterfinal on Saturday. Cornell and Minnesota will play in the Frozen Four's first game at 6 p.m on Friday.