The postseason has returned to Bright Hockey Center, and on Friday, the Harvard women’s hockey team came out to make a statement.
The second-seeded Crimson (17-10-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, cruising to a 6-1 win over seventh-seeded St. Lawrence (16-18-2) in the first game of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
“I thought that’s exactly what we needed to do—come out flying, put up four goals in the first period,” sophomore Jillian Dempsey said. “You’ve got to come out fast, and you’ve got to come out hungry, and that’s exactly what we did.”
It took just 1:28 for Harvard to get on the scoreboard, putting the first shot of the game in the back of the net.
Freshman Lyndsey Fry took a pass from classmate Marissa Gedman and put a shot on net from the left circle. Saints netminder Maxie Weisz deflected the puck with her left pad, and Dempsey charged in to pound the rebound into the open right side of the net.
After killing off an early-period power play, the Crimson stayed in the driver’s seat, doubling its lead less than seven minutes into the period.
Catching St. Lawrence in transition, tri-captain Kate Buesser pushed the puck ahead to sophomore Josephine Pucci, who beat her defender to skate in alone on Weisz. Pucci stayed composed, going five-hole for the 2-0 lead.
“I think we were really excited to start playing,” Dempsey said. “It’s playoff hockey, so we were just raring to go right at the beginning. And once one pops, the others kind of fall into place. We just kept putting pucks on net and pressuring them.”
Harvard got solid production from all four of its lines, with the fourth line getting in on the fun at the 8:38 mark of the first.
Tri-captain Leanna Coskren created space in the right corner, feeding the puck to junior Alisa Baumgartner at the point. Baumgartner’s hard shot was tipped in by freshman Elizabeth Parker, making it a three-goal lead.
Just over a minute later, a set of perfect tic-tac-toe passing from the third line pushed the score to 4-0. Gedman crossed the puck to freshman Kalley Armstrong, who one-timed a pass onto sophomore Whitney Kennedy’s stick. At the right post, Kennedy put the puck just inside the pipe.
With just over 12 minutes gone in the game, the Crimson had amassed a lead that seemed insurmountable.
“Anytime you can get ahead, it’s good,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “It’s also sort of a blessing and a curse. You’ve got to hang onto that 4-0 lead, and sometimes that gets people a little apprehensive.”
A string of penalties marked the last minutes of the first, and on the final penalty—on Fry for high sticking with 1:35 to play in the frame—the Saints broke through.
Brooke Fernandez put a shot on goal from the point, creating a scrum in front of the net. After a few missed attempts, Vanessa Emond poked it past sophomore goaltender Laura Bellamy to put St. Lawrence on the scoreboard before the break.