The No. 5 Harvard women’s hockey team’s two-day doubleheader against Union may not have solved this age-old question, but it did prove one thing: when the immovable object is Union’s offense, there isn’t going to be much of a contest. In two games this past weekend, the Crimson blanked the Dutchwomen 7-0 and 5-0.
The performance was dominating to say the least. Harvard (16-6-2, 14-1-1 ECAC) out-shot Union (5-23-1, 0-16-0) 49-9 Friday night before a 55-6 shot advantage Saturday afternoon.
“I think sometimes it’s tough [to play] when you know the caliber is going to be a little bit less, but we came into it the same way as any other game,” said sophomore Liza Solley, who scored three of the weekend’s 12 goals. “Everyone, especially our line, just came together—we’re trying to pick it up and we know what we have to do, and we got it done.”
The Crimson played both games without freshman Sarah Vaillancourt, who represented her native country in Duisberg, Germany playing for Hockey Canada U-22 at the Air Canada Cup. Vaillancourt and Canada faced teams from Finland, Germany, and Switzerland in the tournament.
In Vaillancourt’s stead, tri-captain Kat Sweet filled in nicely on the first line, scoring a goal in each game and accumulating a plus four rating for the weekend.
HARVARD 5, UNION 0
Harvard spread out the scoring with five players chipping in to extend the Crimson’s unbeaten streak to 10 games in the second of two shutouts of Union.
In perhaps the most surprising development of the weekend, Union held Harvard scoreless for an entire period. It was still a bad sign for the Dutchwomen, however, that the Crimson out-shot them 17-2 during this time.
While the game never looked to be in Union’s favor, the Crimson only held a small lead of 2-0 heading into the third period, due in large part to the Dutchwomen’s strategy of not playing offense but instead dumping the puck without chasing.
“This series was good for getting everyone playing a regular shift, and getting some points on the board,” tri-captain Nicole Corriero said. “I think it’s a good confidence-builder which will improve people’s play when it comes to games against tougher opponents.”
Corriero helped Harvard get back in a scoring groove in the third period, scoring the first of three Crimson goals in the final frame at 3:48.
Junior tri-captain Julie Chu stole the pick in the left corner of Union’s zone, skated towards the back of the net, and found an open Corriero, who shot the puck through goaltender Lauren Carlson’s five-hole from the front of the crease for the goal. Corriero leads the nation with 43 goals, 16 power play goals, averaging 1.79 goals per game.
Freshman Adrienne Bernakevitch also helped widen the Crimson’s lead, scoring the first goal of her Harvard career early in the third period on a deflection from fellow freshman Brenna McLean at 6:41.
“First of all, on the shift I had missed two open nets already so I was like, ‘I have to score on this one!’” Bernakevitch joked after the game. “There was a shot from the point and I just tipped it in.”
Her shift, like much of Harvard’s play in the third period, was characterized by working the offense to generate more scoring opportunities.
“We told ourselves this is our period; we have to step it up,” Bernakevitch said. “There were a few things we were trying to work on for today. We wanted to try to move the puck faster, get shots to the net and crash the net.”
Sophomore goalie Emily Witt improved to 3-1-1 with the shutout on an easy night, making just six saves.
HARVARD 7, UNION 0
As has been the case so many times before, Corriero dominated the scoring charts in the Crimson’s easy 7-0 win over Union. Corriero started Harvard’s unanswered scoring run for the weekend by tapping in a power-play goal early in the first period en route to scoring her fifth hat trick this season.
The Crimson’s third line of junior Carrie Schroyer and sophomores Jenn Sifers and Solley combined for two goals in 30 seconds to give Harvard a comfortable 3-0 cushion after the first period.
Sifers worked behind the net and fed Schroyer for a shot on Union goalie Dana Smullyan. When the rebound popped out, Solley was there to put it into a gaping net for the score at 12:55.
“It was like tic-tac-toe,” Solley said. “We were just trying to come together tonight and it happened. Anytime all three forwards touch the puck it’s great.”
The third line didn’t let up, and Solley once again found herself as the beneficiary, rifling a shot past Smullyan’s left for her second goal in half a minute.
“Sifers again was working really hard down low, came around on her fore-hand and just fed my fore-hand,” Solley said. “The goalie didn’t see it coming. I had kind of a tough angle there and saw a far corner open and just threw it in there and it hit the post.”
“I actually didn’t know it went in until I saw it come back and hit the netting. I was just thankful that it snuck in.”
Freshman Laura Brady notched her first collegiate goal in the second period, when senior Ashley Banfield fired a shot from the point. The rebound popped out besides Brady, who didn’t waste a moment in putting it into the back of the net.
“That was my main objective the whole time—I was trying to score,” Brady said. “We all worked really hard out there. It’s great to be out there, great start to my Harvard career, so I’m pretty excited.”
—Staff writer John R. Hein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.