On Friday night at the Starr Arena in Hamilton, N.Y., the Harvard women’s hockey team (3-1-0, 3-1-0 ECAC) was down three players and a coach. The setback didn’t stop the Crimson from shutting out Colgate (4-7-1, 1-3-1 ECAC) to seal a 2-0 victory in its third conference game of the season.
“I think overall, it was a good game,” captain Alisa Baumgartner said. “It took us a little while to adjust to our roster size, and at times we started to sit back and let them dictate the play, but we caught ourselves and got back to our game plan.”
Harvard was limited to 12 skaters for the game, as junior defenseman Josephine Pucci, freshman defenseman Michelle Picard, and junior forward Jillian Dempsey were away with Crimson coach Katey Stone at the Four Nations Cup in Sweden.
“Playing with a short roster was definitely a test for everyone this weekend,” Baumgartner said. “Fortunately, our team has put in the hours both on and off the ice, and conditioning was not a problem ... [sophomore Elizabeth Parker] put us on the board less than a minute into the game, which got us going.”
Just 42 seconds into the first period, sophomore forward Gina McDonald passed to her classmate Parker, who sneaked the puck in the back of the Raiders’ net, putting Harvard up, 1-0.
“Getting the lead was key,” junior goaltender Laura Bellamy said. “After that we just kept things simple, and it worked for us. We all had to help each other out, so we could save as much energy as possible, and we did a good job of that.”
Although the Crimson sought to conserve its stamina throughout the game, that didn’t stop it from out-shooting Colgate, 13-2, in the first frame, even if it could not rack up a bigger lead.
Colgate picked it up in the second period, taking 10 shots on goal, all of which were deflected by Bellamy.
Both teams took turns trading off power plays throughout the frame, but the score remained unchanged as Harvard and the Raiders both ended up 0-for-5 for the night in man-up situations.
“At this point in the season, blaming play on the basis of tiredness is just an excuse,” Baumgartner said. “We did a great job at staying mentally tough. It’s easy to tell your legs they don’t hurt when your teammates are constantly cheering.”
Toward the end of the third period, Colgate felt the pressure of the scoreboard and swapped their goalie for another shooter, putting the Crimson on the defensive.
Despite the eight shots the Raiders put on Harvard’s goal, Bellamy blocked each one, keeping the score constant. As the clock counted down toward the end of the game, sophomore Lyndsey Fry caught a pass by junior Kaitlin Spurling and scored on Colgate’s empty net with 51 seconds left, solidifying a Crimson victory.
“We feel strongly that we are a well-conditioned team,” Bellamy said. “I think we showed that in how we bared down, especially at the end when they pulled their goalie. We needed our forwards to come back and help our defensemen as much as possible, and they did a great job of that. And our defensemen handled the puck very well despite their low numbers.”
Even though Harvard only had four defenders for the night due to its shortened roster, the Crimson held strong against the Raiders. In the end, Harvard outshot Colgate, 29-20.
Bellamy proved essential in the Crimson’s victory, putting up the first shutout of the season for Harvard. Her 20 saves brought her 0.99 goals-against average—a statistic placing her at second in the nation—down to a mere 0.66. Bellamy also increased her save percentage to .969.
“The shutout is indicative of how well the team played defensively,” Bellamy said. “We just kept things simple and limited the amount of scoring chances they had, and that was the big reason we were able to hold them scoreless.”