After the two playoff starts against Yale in the ECAC Tournament quarterfinals this weekend, sophomore Brittany Martin is emerging as a force in net during critical games for the Crimson. She turned away 19 of 20 shots taken in Friday’s 3-1 win and followed up with 26 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph.
“It’s based on how she’s been playing, her numbers, how hard she’s been practicing,” head coach Katey Stone said of her decision to start Martin both afternoons.
Though Martin and freshman goalie Christina Kessler split time for most of the regular season, Martin also played in both the opening and consolation rounds of the Beanpot, making 62 saves in the high-profile tournament.
On Friday, Martin had to be at her best as Yale goalie Shivon Zilis recorded 35 saves, keeping the teams locked in a 1-1 tie until Harvard scored two quick goals in the beginning of the third period.
“[Zilis] is a big part of their team…but when you take 40 or 50 shots, you’re bound to get one through,” Martin said.
Conditions were a bit tougher for the sophomore on Saturday, as Yale outshot Harvard, 27-26, and Zilis pulled a few NHL-esque saves in an effort to keep her team’s season alive. The Bulldogs foiled Martin’s shutout bid when Mandi Schwartz pushed one through a crowd in front of the net with 2:36 left in the game. Yale pulled its goalie after Julie Chu responded with a score, but Martin managed hold the Bulldogs at bay.
While she came just shy of recording two shutouts this weekend, Martin has six on the season and needs just one more to tie the single-season school record held by Ali Boe ’06.
“I think she plays well in games where we don’t get a lot of shots,” Stone said of Martin. “We’re taking [the rest of the postseason] one game at a time but she did everything we expected her to do.”
WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?
In Friday’s matchup against Yale, Harvard received offensive contributions from its three top lines, showing off its depth in the 3-1 victory.
Sophomore winger Sarah Wilson represented the first line, scoring the game-winning goal 1:13 into the third period. Wilson found the puck at her feet after co-captain Julie Chu’s slapshot hit her, and quickly reacted to backhand it into the net for her 11th goal of the season.
The freshman defenseman, Kathryn Farni, not known for her scoring, added some padding to the lead, receiving a pass from senior Katie Johnston as she charged in from the blue line and slamming it home.
“[Johnston] passing that puck to Farni was just a huge play,” Stone said, “regardless of whether the puck ended up going in the net or not.”
Johnston, a third-line winger, had a goal of her own in the second period, scoring on a back-door pass from co-captain Jennifer Sifers.
“To see that tic-tac-toe play…motivates everyone to get going,” Martin said. “It’s plays like that that make a big difference out here.”
LETTING ’EM PLAY
Though just 15 penalties were whistled over the course of the two-game set, the series was anything but tame. Desperate to extend its season, Yale resorted to physical play that often had Coach Stone standing on the Crimson’s bench, screaming at the referees to make a call.
“It got too physical in my opinion,” she said. “I thought my players responded well…and didn’t retaliate but it got too physical—that’s not women’s hockey.”
While the Bulldogs were penalized for some of their nastier plays, including checks and hits after the whistle, the game was one marked by quite a few no-calls.
“It is easy to get frustrated when it gets physical, especially in tough games,” said Chu, who drew a hard body check six minutes into the third period. “We can’t control what the ref does. We can only control how we play.”
OTHER TOURNEY NEWS
Each of the top three seeds in the conference—Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, and Harvard—won its quarterfinal series in two games to advance to the semifinal round next weekend in Hanover, N.H.
Fifth-seeded Colgate upended fourth-seeded Princeton in two games on the road. The Raiders survived the Tigers in a 1-0 overtime win on Friday and returned to the ice on Saturday to notch a 3-2 victory.
The conference’s top seed, Dartmouth, will take on Colgate in semifinal action on Saturday while a tough St. Lawrence squad awaits Harvard. Though the Crimson enters the game as the three-time defending ECAC tournament champion, the squad dropped both of its games to the Saints during the regular season.
—Staff writer Rebecca A. Compton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at email@example.com.