Riding a three-game winning streak coming into Princeton’s Baker Rink, the No. 8 Harvard women's ice hockey team failed to extend its run, falling to the Tigers, 3-0, in a Friday night ECAC matchup in Princeton, N.J.
"We always get fired up to play Princeton, but it just didn't go our way tonight," captain Alisa Baumgartner said. "Princeton is always a battle. They play hard, they skate fast. Every time they see Harvard on their schedule, they get fired up to play us, so we have to bring it every single night."
The Tigers' (7-9-3, 6-6-1 ECAC) win was their first in a month, but it marked Princeton’s second straight win over the Crimson (9-5-0, 6-3-0). Harvard has not topped the Tigers since the ECAC quarterfinal game in February of 2010.
The Crimson looked like it had drawn first blood just 49 seconds into the contest, but the score was rescinded when officials ruled that the puck had been kicked past the Tiger netminder. After that, the Harvard attack—which had scored eight goals three days earlier against Connecticut—never ignited and failed to score the rest of the way.
Both defenses limited the opposition during the majority of the first period. Junior Laura Bellamy stopped eight shots throughout the frame—one during a Princeton power play—keeping up with Tiger senior Rachel Weber's eight stops.
The game remained tied at zero until Princeton sophomore Sally Butler put the Tigers up 1-0 with 1:28 left to play in the first frame.
"We can't use [the called-back goal] as an excuse," Baumgartner said. "We had plenty of time to put the puck in the net.”
In the following period, although Harvard had two power plays, giving the team a chance to turn the game in its favor, the Princeton defense stayed strong. The Tigers outshot the Crimson, 9-7, but both goaltenders kept sharp, blocking all shots fired and keeping the status quo.
Princeton's stingy defense held during the final frame, as Harvard only managed four shots on goal. And the Tigers offense wasn’t finished yet, firing nine shots at Bellamy and scoring twice.
"All their chances came from mistakes that we had made," Baumgartner said. "So we gave them all the opportunities and unfortunately they capitalized on them and made it 3-0."
Princeton’s second goal of the evening came early in the final period. At the 3:06 mark, Butler once again snuck one past the Harvard defense and put the puck behind Bellamy, giving the hosts a two-goal lead.
The Crimson faced major disadvantages in the frame, racking up five penalties. For the most part, Harvard's defense kept together, rendering most of the Tigers' hunts for points during power plays fruitless. Princeton was only able to capitalize on the fourth power play of the period with a goal by senior Danielle DiCesare with just under seven minutes left to play.
"We have been working on the penalty kill and I think it went pretty well for us," sophomore Marissa Gedman said. "One of the best things we had last night was that even though we were down a goal and then two and three, we stayed positive and we didn't give up till the last buzzer. It's good that our team sticks together when things aren't going as well."
With just 6:34 remaining in the game, Harvard wasn't able to make a comeback, giving the victory to the Tigers with a final score of 3-0.
"I think we got away from doing the little things right," Baumgartner said. "That's something that Harvard hockey always does. We take care of the fundamentals and we get the little things, the simple things, and I think...instead of Princeton beating us, we beat ourselves."
—Staff writer Chelsea E. Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com.