Women's Hockey Splits Weekend

After losing a feisty 5-4 melee to Dartmouth on Saturday, the Harvard women's hockey team (5-2, 1-2 ECAC, 1-2 Ivy) rode a clutch performance in net from senior co-captain Jen Bowdoin to stymie Boston College yesterday, 3-1.

"The Dartmouth game was the kind of game you want to be in," said junior co-captain Kyle Walsh. "We were bummed out to lose, but we kind of felt good at the end. We had fun; we were pumped."

An elbowing penalty on junior defender Claudia Asano seconds into the contest seemed to portend a dire start. However, the adverse flared into the auspicious when freshman Kiirsten Suurkask scored a shorthanded goal just 1:59 into the game.

Fifty-one seconds later, Asano made an apparently-symbolic exit from the penalty box. As she returned to the ice, Asano picked up the puck and scored on a breakaway.

"We came out fine," Walsh said. "It was a big up for us and got our momentum rolling. Scoring two goals in less than three minutes certainly was an inspiring thing."

Dartmouth, though, retaliated by scoring the next three goals. This turn of events may have sent the Crimson packing, but the squad evened the game as freshman Angie Francisco picked up a loose puck in front of the net and rifled it in for her seventh goal of the year.

With 10 minutes left in the third period, Harvard now moved ahead when Suurkask scored her tenth goal of the year on a nice backhand shot.

Now, the Crimson sought to keep the puck in the Big Green zone and milk the clock for the win.

"We tried mostly to stick to our game plan," Walsh said. "We wanted to cross the red line, dump the puck in their zone, and forecheck really hard. That's one of our strong points--we can be aggressive on the forecheck."

However, Dartmouth sent the game into overtime with 6:44 remaining in the third.

In the extra session, Jen Wayne scored the game-winner with 1:15 to play.

Following this gritty performance against one of the Ivy elite, the Crimson entered yesterday's contest against B.C. with some trepidation.

"Coming off our performance against Dartmouth, which is the team to beat in the league right now, it's sometimes hard to settle into a game like B.C.," Walsh said.

Furthermore, sophomore goalie Crystal Springer, who made 21 saves against Dartmouth, went down with a sprained knee during that game.

"She was down for a bit," Walsh said. "We were concerned, but it was encouraging to see her get up and skate around. She finished the game and did a great job."

Bowdoin, who had sustained a hip injury earlier, was pressed into her season debut against B.C. She had only practiced once.

"I was nervous," Bowdoin said. "But it was something I had to do. I'm glad I was able to play even though I didn't feel completely ready."

Entering the game, Bowdoin felt especially nervous.

"You never know what's going to happen," said she.

However, Suurkask gave Harvard a boost by scoring her 11th goal of the year on a nice pass from Francisco.

However, Harvard played a mostly lackluster first period.

"We were getting outhustled, playing with the puck too long, and our defensive zone coverage was awful," Walsh said. "People were not sticking to their marks. We weren't making smart decisions."

Harvard's troubles continued when B.C. right wing Erin Magee scored on an assist from left wing Gena Nolin.

Forty seconds later, though, the Crimson reclaimed the lead for good when Francisco scored her seventh goal on an assist from junior Melissa Milbert.

Sophomore Courtney Smith iced the contest with just over 15 minutes to play in the third period, notching her fifth goal on an assist from junior Kate Schutt.

"I was really glad we were able to hold onto the lead," Bowdoin said. "We had trouble doing that last year. I don't think we played that well in the beginning and middle. I'm glad we didn't allow many chances in the third."

Harvard grabbed control of the game when it began playing the body.

"The turning point was when we started to mark up better and take the body harder," Walsh said. "It was pretty key. There were some times when B.C. definitely had a lot of chances. There were some hectic moments in our zone, but we withstood them."

Bowdoin made 27 saves to gain her first win.

Having knocked the stuffing out of B.C., Harvard enjoys Thanksgiving off before returning to face Middlebury on December 3.CrimsonMatthew R. CordellCORNERED: Junior KATE SCHUTT digs the puck out of the corner this weekend.