Record Crowd Fills Bright for W. Hockey

Not even a snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow on the Boston area could prevent the Harvard women’s hockey team from drawing a record home crowd of 1,741 to the Bright Hockey Center for its 2-1 win over Dartmouth on Friday night.

The snow had abated a few hours before the game began, but it was still tough for out-of-town fans to arrive at what Bob Ryan had called “The Best Show in Town.” Harvard coach Katey Stone said she had received several calls asking whether the game would be cancelled. Afterwards she was left wondering what might have been.

“If it weren’t for that snowstorm, we might have sold out, and it was a tough night for little kids to come out on the road,” she said.

An estimated 400 students still made the trip across the river and the band showed up in full force.

“There’s no question in my mind, that band and students helped us win that game,” Stone said. “We thank them a lot and we hope they come back.”

“It was a great crowd—tons of support, tons of energy,” said captain Jennifer Botterill. “We were thrilled.”

As soon as the puck was dropped the fans were into the game as Dartmouth, with its speed and strength, made it clear it was going to put up a fight. The student section was packed, and Harvard supporters lined the glass with painted stomachs.

“The greatest thing about women’s hockey is its open seating,” Stone said. “You can go wherever you want. You can hang on the glass, you can paint your stomachs and not be thrown out of the game. We need those kind of fans.”

Stone said her one regret was that Harvard could not extend its one-goal lead after the first period. The Crimson certainly had its chances.

“You kind of wanted to score more goals so people could go crazy and the crowd could erupt,” she said.

Yet the seven Harvard penalty kills and the explosive hits on both sides of the ice gave plenty of opportunity for fans to stay in the game.

By contrast, the Crimson drew 716 fans the following afternoon for a 9-1 win over Vermont with minimal student support. The attendance—its second-largest of the year—was fueled largely by younger hockey players who came to Harvard for National Girls and Women in Sports Day festivities.

In a nice gesture, the team hosted an autograph session after the game. Nearly every girl in attendance made their way into the autograph line, which at its peak stretched from the concessions stand to bench—about a third of the rink’s perimeter.

Stone hopes that this week’s attendance will only be the beginning, pitching Tuesday’s Beanpot final, next weekend’s senior weekend with Princeton and Yale and the continuation of the Harvard-Brown rivalry in two and a half weeks.

“The momentum’s building,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to get some real crowds in here.”

A Harvard Hockey Fairy Tale