Even with all eyes turned to New Haven, the No. 10 Harvard women’s hockey team (4-1, 4-1 ECAC) claimed not just one, but two dominant wins this weekend, beginning with a 2-1 takedown of Clarkson Friday night in its home opener. With the come-from-behind victory, the Crimson not only improved its wins record but also earned a season sweep of its league rivals. The two teams squared off on Oct. 29, when Harvard also captured a 2-1 win off of a last-minute overtime goal from sophomore defenseman Marissa Gedman.
“It’s huge for us to sweep [Clarkson],” junior netminder Laura Bellamy said. “It’s exactly what we wanted to do—to beat them in two close games. It shows us how competitive we are … and how well we’re playing together.”
The game didn’t begin as well as it ended, with the Golden Knights finding the back of the net first in the second period. Clarkson took advantage of Harvard’s third penalty of the match, with Jamie Lee Rattray accepting a pass from Hailey Wood and slipping the puck past Bellamy for the 1-0 lead just 6:45 into the second frame.
Despite strong chances for the Crimson, it was unable to get on the scoreboard until 15:01 in the same frame, when Harvard had a power play of its own, which gave it just the opportunity its offense needed. Gedman and sophomore Gina McDonald combined to offer the assist to junior Jillian Dempsey, who collected the puck and sent a shot past goalie Erica Howe for the goal.
“We have a really loose group, and we’ve come from behind a few different times,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “It’s a 60-minute game, whether we’re up or down, we have to play the same.”
The tie between the two squads did not last for long, though, with Harvard snatching the lead just 47 seconds later. Freshman Hillary Crowe gave the Crimson the one-up on Clarkson, fighting through a crowd of defensemen in front of the goal to lock the lead, accepting an assist from junior Hilary Hayssen and sophomore Kalley Armstrong.
“You never want to give up the first goal,” Bellamy said. “But getting [the lead] right back was all we needed…and was a huge momentum swing for us.”
The third period, though scoreless, saw many Golden Knight opportunities for an equalizer. Harvard gave up three penalties, one that even gave Clarkson a 5-on-3-man advantage, although it was ultimately unable to finish. The Crimson defense, with Bellamy at its helm, helped hold the Golden Knights at one throughout the game and killed five of six power plays, with the netminder posting a stellar, match-high 29 saves.
“Our goaltending and defense did a great job,” Stone said. “We didn’t necessarily play as well as we could have, but at the end of the day, we got the job done. It’s just a matter of time that our kids will find a way to win.”
“We’re feeling good right now, having a lot of fun and playing well together,” Bellamy added. “We really weren’t too phased by going down … and it was great to get that win.”
Harvard was coming off of a 5-3 league loss to No. 2 Cornell–its first loss of the season and in the conference–going into the match against Clarkson. Despite three assists from Armstrong, the Crimson was unable to overcome the offensive intensity of the Big Red.
“Every day you play, you have to find a way to win differently,” Stone said. “If you lose, you just have to get after the next [game].”
With the win on Friday, Armstrong recorded her fifth assist of the season, a team-high for Harvard so far, while the Crimson offense posted 28 shots on goal, two less than the Golden Knights’ total and on par with its season average of 29.8. The Clarkson defense was just as effective on the power play, holding Harvard to a one-for-five count, a statistic that shows just how well matched the teams were.
“[Clarkson] is a team that will go on and do well this season,” Stone said. “This was a big [game] on a schedule filled with big games and big wins.”
—Staff writer B. Marjorie Gullick can be reached at email@example.com.