Historically, being the underdog is not a familiar situation for the Harvard women’s hockey team. But the Crimson (4-2-2, 4-2-2 ECAC) thrived in the role this weekend, coming back to beat No. 9 Dartmouth (6-3-0, 5-3-0), 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Thompson Arena.
It was Harvard’s second win over the Big Green in as many days and brought the team a much-needed weekend sweep.
“We were all just extremely excited and happy to finally...get four points in a weekend, because we had been struggling in the past six games,” sophomore forward Jillian Dempsey said. “To come out hard and successful against Dartmouth, I think that really helped us with our confidence and let us know what we have to bring to every game.”
Dempsey played the hero on Saturday afternoon, scoring the game-winning goal with just over two minutes to play.
The sophomore took a pass from tri-captain Leanna Coskren and quickly flipped it past Big Green goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft for the go-ahead score.
“It was great hard work from everyone out there,” Dempsey said of the goal, which was her second of the afternoon. “Leanna, it was an unbelievable pass as always...it was just a little bit of open space, and I just cut down and she saw me.”
Though Dartmouth pulled Holdcroft with just over a minute to go, sophomore goaltender Laura Bellamy stood tall to hold on for her third win of the season.
“She had some unbelievable saves,” Dempsey said of her classmate, who recorded 28 stops after yielding to freshman Lauren Joarnt in the last two games. “There were some times when had she not come up with the save, we probably would have been in trouble with momentum. She proved herself in net and showed us that she can make the really big saves in the real crucial moments.”
But long before Dempsey’s game-winner, it was Dartmouth that struck first.
Although both teams struggled to generate shots in the opening period—the Big Green outshot Harvard, 8-5, in the frame—Dartmouth capitalized on one of its few early opportunities.
Just under 12 minutes into the game, Big Green junior Moira Scanlon took a pass from Lauren Kelly and got the puck past Bellamy, putting her team up, 1-0.
The Crimson responded seven minutes into the second period, with Dempsey evening the game on a shorthanded tally. She took a pass from tri-captain Kate Buesser and powered it past Holdcroft despite the man disadvantage.
It was a bright moment for the Harvard penalty-kill unit, which has struggled to a nation-worst .697 kill percentage this season but has scored shorthanded in each of its last two games.
“We’re playing a physical type of style this year, and we’re in the penalty box here and there, but it’s definitely good to see our systems working out right now,” Buesser said. “The two goals on the penalty kill are kind of a bonus.”
But the penalty-kill woes resurfaced later that period when freshman Marissa Gedman was sent to the box for hooking. Near the end of her team’s power play, Dartmouth sophomore Kelly Foley capitalized on the man advantage to put the Big Green ahead, 2-1.