No. 2 W. Hockey Faces Familiar Foe in No. 4 UNH
Third place in the ECAC will be on the line when the No. 2 Harvard women's hockey team hosts No. 4 New Hampshire tomorrow night at Bright Hockey Center in a rematch of last year's national championship game.
Tonight the Crimson (16-4-3, 13-4-3 ECAC) will play last-place Maine (4-17-2, 1-17-2) at Bright. The puck drops at 7 p.m. both evenings.
Since losing at No. 5 Dartmouth two weeks ago, Harvard has played its best hockey of the season. Last week the Crimson upset No. 1 Brown in Providence, 2-1, after winning its second-straight Beanpot championship game by beating No. 7 Northeastern in overtime, 4-3.
"The Beanpot and the Brown game were big victories for the Crimson," said Harvard Coach Katey Stone. "We are playing well together and with a great deal of intensity and mental savvy. We hope to build on this success and
carry it through to the play-offs."
Although the Crimson won both of its games, UNH (22-7-0, 15-5-0) managed to move past Harvard in the ECAC standings. The Wildcats are in third place in the conference, one point ahead of the Crimson and three points behind first-place Brown.
If Harvard wins both games this weekend, it will reclaim third place.
Harvard had never beaten UNH before last season, but the Crimson has won five straight against the Wildcats. That streak includes victories in last season's ECAC and AWCHA national championship games, both of which went to overtime.
The overtime hero last season was sophomore center Jen Botterill (22 goals, 20 assists), who scored the championship-winning goal to earn the
AWCHA Tournament MVP award.
Botterill missed two games earlier this month with a groin injury, but last week she scored four goals and was named Beanpot MVP after tallying the game-winner in the extra period.
"Clearly, Jennifer Botterill is back at 100 percent," Stone said. "She is so explosive and dangerous with or without the puck. When you watch her play, you know she loves it. The bigger the situation, the bigger she plays."
Botterill is just one of the talented players that will skate at Bright tomorrow night. Harvard and UNH feature eight of the ECAC's top 13 scorers.
Botterill works with junior forwards Tammy Shewchuk (27 g, 28 a) and Angie Francisco (14 g, 29 a) and sophomore defenseman Angela Ruggiero (13 g, 25 a). UNH is led by senior forward Carisa Zaban (33 g, 34 a), the conference's leading scorer, and three classmates in Samm Holmes (24 g, 18 a), Melissa McKenzie (16 g, 19 a) and Tina Carrabba (17 g, 18 a).
Both goaltenders will be tested. Harvard will send experienced senior Crystal Springer (2.07 GAA, .913 save percentage) between the pipes while
UNH will rely on rookie netminder Jen Huggon (1.73 GAA, .921).