After three straight losses at home, the Harvard women’s hockey team (5-4, 5-2 ECAC) is ready for a change in scenery and a chance to regain its early-season momentum. A rematch against conference rival Dartmouth (5-4-1, 4-2-1) Wednesday could be the perfect opportunity.
The Crimson and the Big Green were pitted against each other for the first time last week, with Dartmouth pulling off a 3-2 upset at Bright Hockey Center. The loss against the Big Green was quickly followed by back-to-back losses to No. 2 Minnesota—2-1 and 7-3, respectively—which dropped Harvard from the national rankings.
The trio of losses tarnished the winning record of a previously one-loss team that was riding a two-game winning streak and ranked No. 9 in the nation.
“We’re coming off a tough three losses … and we hate losing,” junior forward Jillian Dempsey said. “We want to learn from the mistakes we made playing against [Dartmouth and Minnesota], but we’re ready to play.”
The Big Green, which leads the Crimson 41-35-2 in the series history, enters tonight’s contest unranked, marking the first time that both squads meet with neither being nationally ranked.
Though unranked, both squads are expected to make an impact in the ECAC, with the Crimson finishing second in the preseason coaches’ poll and the Big Green taking fourth.
Dartmouth has already proven its prowess in the conference with a 5-4 upset over Cornell–which was the first-place pick in the coaches’ poll–on Nov. 11.
Harvard, meanwhile, fell, 5-3, to its Ivy League opponent.
Despite the losing streak that has defined the last week of play, the Crimson still feels confident in its ability to win against its Big Green counterpart.
“We have a lot of motivation to get this game [tonight],” junior defender Josephine Pucci said. “Dartmouth is doing pretty well right now and has won the last couple of games, but we’re ready to get the win. Last week didn’t go the way we had hoped, but we’re capable of a lot more.”
“We’re fired up … and we’re going in with a chip on our shoulder,” Dempsey added. “We’re taking what we can from the losses, both good and bad, but the losses are definitely motivating us to come out harder.”
In its loss against Dartmouth, Harvard had no trouble getting on the board, scoring less than a minute after the opening faceoff. Dempsey and Pucci combined to fire a shot on goal, and sophomore Lyndsey Fry capitalized on the deflection, putting the Crimson ahead just 39 seconds into the match. Harvard was also able to find the back of the net at the end of game, when Dempsey fired a shot to pull the Crimson within one in the final minute of the match.
The Crimson proved itself on the bookends of the matchup, but could not find consistency in the 58 minutes between the goals, during which Dartmouth scored three times.
But last Wednesday was not the first, or the most heartbreaking time, the Big Green pulled an upset over the Crimson.
Last season, despite beating Dartmouth in both regular season games, 5-3 and 3-2, Harvard fell to the Big Green, 4-1, in the ECAC semifinal at home.