College sports present a challenge unlike any other level in all of sports: to maintain a consistently high level of success with each graduating class. For the last 13 seasons, the Cornell Big Red Women’s Hockey team have found consistency behind the bench with Head Coach Doug Derraugh. Now in his 14th season, Derraugh has reached a new level in his career, 250 wins. Taking over the program at the start of the 2005-06 season, Derraugh, a Cornell alumnus and former co-captain of the Big Red Men’s Hockey team, faced the challenging task of turning around a team that recorded just four wins to round out the 2004-05 season.
The changes in the program were certainly not immediate under Derraugh, as the team came closer to a winning record as he began to build recruiting classes. In his first two seasons, Derraugh saw the team finish sixth in the Ivy League standings. A pair of fourth-place finishes would follow for Derraugh’s squads, a sign of great improvement.
In his fifth season, Derraugh would see his legacy begin to take shape when his Big Red squad finished atop the Ivy League standings and followed with an ECAC Tournament crown. The 2009-10 season would also see Derraugh’s team reach the NCAA Championship game, a feat they have yet to repeat. The 2009-10 season would be the first of five consecutive 20-win seasons, a run that would include five straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.After a break from 20-win seasons and a pair of years that saw the Big Red absent from the national tournament, Derraugh’s team bounced back with two more 20-win seasons, including 21 a season ago.
Entering this season, Derraugh needed to coach his team to just seven wins to reach the milestone of 250. After four straight wins to open the season, the Big Red picked up a 2-1-4 record during an extended road trip that lasted more than a month.
While the team was unable to secure a few more wins on the road, the perfect setting fell into place for Derraugh to attempt to get the milestone win; a two-game homestand against ninth-ranked St. Lawrence and third-ranked Clarkson.
The seventh-ranked Big Red took on the Saints of St. Lawrence in the Friday night opener and skated efficiently under the direction of Derraugh, scoring two even-strength goals to put the pressure on the Saints late in the game. With the 4-0 win, Derraugh reached win number 250 as the head man of his alma mater, further cementing himself as the winningest coach in program history.
After the game, after his postgame wrap-up with his team, Derraugh took a lighthearted approach to his feelings about the accomplishment. “It means that I have been here a while, and I’m getting older,” he said jokingly. “I’m really proud of being here for as long as I have and thankful for having this opportunity.”
After the initial laughter, Derraugh spoke humbly of his accomplishment. “It’s an honor to be in this position,” he said. “Obviously as a coach, I’m not the one out there on the ice doing all the work for those wins, but I’m happy for it.”
The celebration was short lived for the Big Red’s coach as the preparations for the second game of the weekend commenced.
As he had done for more than a decade, Derraugh led his team back to the ice the next day against the third-ranked Clarkson Golden Knights, the two-time, defending national champions.
Cornell looked sharp from the opening faceoff to the final horn and skated past the Golden Knights to a 3-1 victory, Derraugh’s 251 career victory.
While his first 251 wins have come and gone, there is no denying the impact of over a decade of dedication and success under Derraugh’s leadership has had on the Cornell hockey scene.
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