Sophomore goalie Brittany Martin gave up a second-period goal at 10:19 but buckled down in the late minutes on Friday. Nine of the Torrance, Calif. native’s 19 saves came in the third period.
For the full sixty minutes of hockey on Friday night, the No. 5 Harvard women’s hockey team looked like a national title contender.
Meanwhile, No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth could only fight to stay in the game as the Crimson outplayed it to 3-1 victory.
“Our kids were fired up and ready to go,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “It was just up and back—it was a high tempo, intense game that we handled very well.”
The Crimson extended its record to 10-1-0 by overwhelming the Bulldog’s defense and its superb goaltender Kim Martin. When in net for Duluth Martin had given up more than two goals only once this season—to Minnesota—and boasted a 1.03 goals against average heading into the contest.
The key goal came just past halfway through the game in response to the Bulldogs’ first goal. While on the powerplay, sophomore Sarah Vaillancourt had the puck behind the net to the left. As she skated around, keeping possession, she found senior forward Liza Solley in front of the net, who knocked home the puck in a tight hole between Martin’s left arm and the post for a 2-1 Harvard advantage.
For Harvard sophomore goalie Brittany Martin, the quick bounce back was appreciated since the Bulldogs’ goal was somewhat disputed.
To the naked eye, and to Martin, the shot by Elin Holmlov looked like it had bounced off the post because of the angle and location of the hit. But head referee Dean Gilbert, who had a good perspective and was close to the play, ruled it a goal.
Despite the setback, Martin played aggressively in netin order to hold Duluth to a single goal. In total, she turned away 19 shots, extending her record to 8-1-0.
“She did everything we needed her to do in a big game like this,” Stone said.
Although Harvard only finished 2-of-12 on the powerplay and missed scoring on two different 5-on-3 chances, it managed 21 shots during these man-advantage situations. Also, two of its goals were the result of patient play in the special teams combined with great finishing touches.
“We can look at some stuff and tweak some stuff,” said Stone about the powerplay. “We have to play with a greater sense of urgency on the powerplay. We do a better job of letting the puck do the work tomorrow night.”
Vaillancourt scored the first of these—and the first goal of the game—8:05 after the opening face-off. She got off a clean and quick shot from the right after the play had been exclusively to Kim Martin’s left, leaving her unable to get back to block the shot.
The second one came at 15:57 of the third period and was buried by sophomore forward Jenny Brine on a rebound. Vaillancourt threw a hard chance at Duluth’s Martin from an extreme right angle, and Martin could not handle the puck.
While it was bouncing, Brine dove into the play and between her touch and Martin’s inability to find the puck, floated the puck over the goal line for the third score.
The refereeing crew did not just ring up Duluth on the penalties—though the Bulldogs took the vast majority—as the Crimson were whistled six times.
“I think it’s what we’ve been used to,” Stone said. “I don’t know if they’re used to that, but there was a lot of interference and hooking and stuff like that. We got ourselves in a couple binds.”
The most damning of these seemed to come in the early part of the third period when co-captains Julie Chu and Jennifer Sifers found themselves in the penalty box together. But Harvard first killed off the 5-on-3, and then saw the penalty kill abruptly interrupted by a penalty called on the Bulldogs’ Noemie Marin.
—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.