Considering the Harvard women’s hockey team’s recent offensive explosion, it is all too easy to overlook what the Crimson has accomplished on the other side of the ice lately—particularly in the net.
Harvard junior goalie Christina Kessler made 27 saves in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Brown, notching her second clean sheet in three games—a span in which the Crimson has also scored 14 goals.
“Goaltending has been huge too,” Harvard tri-captain Sarah Vaillancourt said. “Kessler has been doing a tremendous job for us, and I think that’s key.”
Kessler’s run of success evokes memories of last season, when she set the NCAA single-season record with 12 shutouts. She hasn’t sustained the same level of dominance this year, but if recent play is any indicator of future performance, the Crimson certainly has reason to feel secure about Kessler’s ability to protect the net.
“Kessler played well, and when we needed her, she was there,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said.
The rest of the Crimson defense followed suit, allowing 27 shots, but never letting Brown make any legitimate threats to get on the scoreboard.
“I thought we played very well on our defensive end today,” Stone said. “We didn’t give them a lot.”
OLD TIMERS’ DAY
While the Crimson improved its present situation with its sweep of Yale and Brown this weekend, the team also found time to acknowledge its past.
During the first intermission in Saturday’s game, Harvard honored the 1999 AWHCA national championship team that finished 31-1-0 on its way to the title.
Alumni from that team came out to center ice in a red carpet ceremony, and then watched a video montage celebrating the 30th anniversary of Harvard women’s hockey.
“It’s awesome to see everybody,” Stone said. “We had 42 people out for our alumni game earlier today, which was a great turnout.”
Harvard put on a good show for the Crimson alumnae, taking down Brown, 4-0, and allowing Stone to celebrate with the 1999 squad with a clear conscience.
“The kids were fired up, and we’re looking forward to a great evening tonight,” Stone said. “It’s nice to win two games, so I can go and enjoy myself a bit.”
CHANGE IT UP
Harvard found itself frustrated heading into the second intermission on Friday night. No offensive play could fool Yale netminder Genny Ladiges, and the Crimson had been held to just five shots on its first three power plays.
In the locker room, Stone decided to make a change. The Crimson came out for the third period with a new man-up game plan—and found a lot of success.
Harvard converted on both of its power plays in the final frame to win the game.
“Last year it came easy, this year we have to work a little bit harder, but tonight was just a great example of how we try to improve things,” tri-captain Jenny Brine said. “Coach gave us a new system coming out in the third period, and it worked. And that’s how it’s going to have to be the rest of the year, just adapting to what teams play against us.”
The Crimson was finally able to escape Yale’s zone defense to find the back of the net.
“It’s something we’ve done before against Yale, because they don’t come out and pressure you too much,” Stone said. “We adjusted and we were able to score two goals.”
Harvard’s special teams also came through on the defensive end, killing a key penalty in the last two minutes of the game to preserve the victory.
“When your special teams are working, everything just seems to run a little bit smoother,” Brine said.
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at email@example.com.