Coming off an 8-0 clobbering of Yale, the No. 8/9 Harvard women’s hockey team continued to find the back of the net against Brown, cruising to a 3-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Meehan Auditorium in Providence, R.I.
“The team played well as a unit this weekend,” junior forward Jillian Dempsey wrote in an email. “There were some really beautiful goals set up by finesse passing. It is a testament to this team’s hustle and hard work that between both games so many different players made it onto the box score with goals and assists.”
It did not take long for Harvard (14-6-1, 11-4-1 ECAC) to take control of this one. Eight minutes in, sophomore forward Gina McDonald fired a shot that clanged off the post, but the near-goal didn’t faze the Crimson. The stretch that ensued included goals scored by junior forward Kaitlin Spurling at 11:19 from sophomore forward Kalley Armstrong and freshman defender Sarah Edney at 12:09.
“It’s really important to come out right off the bat and get the momentum on your side,” junior defender Josephine Pucci said. We’ve used our speed in the first period and that has caught teams a little off guard. Hopefully, we will continue doing that for the games we have coming up this week.”
With her first-period goal, Edney became the eighth and final Harvard player to score this weekend.
The Bears (7-9-7, 4-8-4) responded with one of their most threatening possessions all night, firing five in the direction of the net and forcing three saves. While the Crimson held the 12-8 advantage in shots on goal by the end of the first, Brown edged Harvard 5-4 in the category after the two goals.
But as would be the case all night, junior goaltender Laura Bellamy proved to be unbeatable, as she sailed to her third consecutive shutout and fourth in her last six games.
The second period started much as the first ended, as both teams fired strings of shots but neither was able to find the back of the net. Following two early Bellamy saves, the Crimson struck with consecutive shots from Spurling followed by attempts from freshman forward Hillary Crowe and freshman forward Samantha Reber.
Harvard proceeded to block four of the Bears’ next seven attempts before Spurling added the exclamation point to a fruitful weekend.
After notching two goals and two assists against the Bulldogs, Spurling added the game’s final score midway through the second to give Harvard the commanding three-goal advantage. A blocked shot off of Pucci’s stick helped set up the score.
The breakdown of shots on goal in the second period was a similar 13-8 in favor of the Crimson.
Brown’s prospects continued to fade in the final period. After failing to attempt one shot on net with a man advantage early in the frame, the Bears managed only managing two shots in the contest’s closing 20 minutes.
Bellamy stopped all 18 shots that got to her on the night. The defense also did its part, keeping the puck out of danger by blocking a combined 11 shots.
“It’s a whole team effort,” Pucci said. “As a defensive unit, we’ve really made it [a priority] to try and eliminate shots as much as possible, and obviously [Bellamy] has been making the saves that she should make and some big saves too. Also, our forwards have done a great job generating back pressure, making it easy for the defensemen to step up and take away the shooting lanes.”
Over Bellamy’s perfect three-game span, Harvard has scored 15 goals and allowed just 47 shots on net.
But Bellamy and her teammates will be tested in the first round of the Beanpot against Boston University on Tuesday night. On the other side of the four-team draw are No. 4 Boston College and No. 6 Northeastern.
“Against Brown we only gave them outside looks at the net and forced tough angle shots,” Dempsey said. “Overall, we were proud of the effort and results this weekend and will continue to build upon the good and the bad as we head into the Beanpot Tuesday night.”
—Staff writer Daniel A. Grafstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.