The Crimson (23-1-1, 11-0-1 ECAC) felt that having senior day this past weekend was more convenient because the team is now free to focus on games with championships on the line.
“It’s nice to get this nostalgic sentimental stuff out of the way so we can focus on what we’re going to accomplish,” said Harvard captain Jamie Hagerman.
“We tried to put the emphasis on the future and what this group of kids is going to do for us in the next four weeks,” added Harvard coach Katey Stone.
None of the Harvard players—except captains Angela Ruggiero and Jennifer Botterill—have won any kind of Ivy, ECAC or national collegiate championship in their careers. That emptiness makes tonight’s game all the more crucial, especially for the seniors, who could clinch two titles in their final regular season home games.
“It’s all big games from here on in,” said captain Kalen Ingram.
Brown is the program that dealt Harvard its only loss of the season the last time the Crimson won the Ivy and ECAC regular season titles in 1999. Earlier this season, assistant coach Claudio Asano, a co-captain of the 1999 team, confessed that she still doesn’t take it lightly that Brown was the one team to defeat Harvard that season.
This year the Bears (10-11-4, 7-5-1) have already lost more games than any Brown team since 1992-93. The Bears have struggled this year following the graduation of the reigning Frozen Four MVP Kristy Zamora and an injury to their fastest player, Krissy McManus.
But Brown’s fall from national championship contention this year won’t make a Harvard victory any less satisfying.
“No matter what, Brown is a huge rivalry for us,” Stone said.
The same holds true on the Bears’ side. Despite their year-long struggles, Brown gave Harvard one of its toughest challenges of the season in a 3-2 Crimson victory in December. The Bears are one of just five teams this season that has maintained a tie score against Harvard during some portion of the third period.
Brown is just one year removed from playing in its second national championship in three years. Tonight’s contest may be the closest thing to a national championship game that Brown will see all year.
“In my opinion, it doesn’t matter where we’re ranked, we’re always going to be in it, because our team near the end of the season historically has always found a way to win,” Brown coach Digit Murphy said at the conclusion of her last game with Harvard.
To beat Brown, the Crimson players feel they just have to keep building on the level of play that has carried them to their current 21-game unbeaten streak.
“If you relax in any way, you could get caught, so we have to focus on getting better each time we hit the ice,” Botterill said.
—Staff writer David R. De Remer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.