But when No. 5 Dartmouth and the No. 6 Harvard women’s hockey team face-off tonight in Hanover, N.H., the lineups will look like the best game of pick-up hockey that one might ever see: with a combined seven Olympians on the two teams, the opening face-off will comprise more than one sixth of the Canadian and American teams. In other words, three players with bronze medals and four with gold medals will grace the ice tonight.
“It’s the match up we look forward to every year,” sophomore forward Jenny Brine said. “They have a similar situation to us with the Olympians.”
“We got our Olympians back, they have their Olympians back,” sophomore goalie Brittany Martin said. “We had some great games against them last year, and this year we are looking forward to it. And I really like our chances.”
Also, the two teams will be fighting for the ECAC lead heading into the holidays. Both now stand in first place in the conference with identical 9-1-0 records. Princeton is the next best team at 8-2-1.
“Dartmouth’s going to be tough,” Brine said. “I like the way it’s looking. We have a good chance. We’re going to prove ourselves before Christmas break.”
For the Crimson, junior defender Caitlin Cahow and co-captain Julie Chu played with the United States’ team, while sophomore forward Sarah Vaillancourt skated with Team Canada. The situation for the Big Green is a bit reversed: four players—forwards Gillian Apps, Cherie Piper, and defenseman Katie Weatherston—skated for our northern neighbors, while freshman standout Sarah Parsons wore the red, white, and blue.
Right now, however, neither team has its top stars at 100 percent. Chu suffered a badly sprained ankle against Minnesota-Duluth two weekends ago, and was noticeable hobbled in the last two games (after sitting out a loss to UConn on Dec. 5).
Unfortunately for Dartmouth, any benefit from facing an injured Chu will be counterbalanced by the fact that both Piper and Weatherston were injured and sat out last weekend’s slate of games.
Their status for this weekend is unknown, though Chu will definitely be suiting up for the Crimson.
If any comparison can be made between the two squads at this point in the year, common opponents will tell the tale. And yet, both teams seem to come away with the same results. Just last weekend, the two squads both beat Providence and tied No. 3 University of New Hampshire.
For the Crimson, however, a loss to the Huskies the previous week has them in a stretch that is not quite perfect.
“It’s definitely good to get back on the winning side before we head into this big game against Dartmouth on Friday,” said Brine after the win over the Friars.
Just one season ago, Harvard headed into the big rivalry game in late December after a loss to the Wildcats. But at home on the Bright Hockey Center ice, the Crimson overwhelmed the Big Green for a 4-1 win.
Dartmouth got its revenge and helped plunge Harvard into one of its darkest stretches of the season when it handed the Crimson a 3-1 loss in Hanover on Jan. 30. The loss was part of a 0-2-2 stretch for Harvard.
With the return of the Olympians and any bitterness left over from last year—the Crimson made the NCAA postseason in the end, while Dartmouth sat on the outside looking in—will make the rivalry roaring and ready to go when the first puck drops at 7:00 pm tonight.
“It is Harvard-Dartmouth,” Martin said, “its always a big huge rivalry, so who is not excited.”
—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at email@example.com.