“This year it feels like we are really well prepared—almost like we have done it before,” senior forward Margaret Chute says.
The Crimson seniors certainly have. The group, which has played together since arriving in Cambridge back in 2009, has devoted the last three years to breaking into the pinnacle of collegiate hockey.
While coming tantalizingly close, the seniors of this year’s squad have yet to secure a berth to the NCAA semifinals, affectionately nicknamed the Frozen Four. But the confidence projected by Chute speaks to the belief of a team that draws from a reservoir of experience.
Chute and her cohort represent a wide spectrum of on-ice ability, with each of the four positions represented.
Bursting onto the scene in 2009, the rookies immediately made noise. Goaltender Laura Bellamy’s 1.68 goals-against average was good for No. 10 nationally, while forward Jillian Dempsey finished second on the Crimson and among ECAC freshman with 27 points.
The class built on that momentum going forward. As a sophomore, defender Josephine Pucci topped the team with a + 24 rating. And last season, the class of 2013 combined for 33 percent of the assists on a Harvard offense that was ranked seventh in the nation, largely due to Dempsey who broke out with an 11-game point-scoring streak.
Throughout its first three years, the group improved its already impressive résumé with a smattering of ECAC Player of the Month awards and national team appearances.
“[The seniors have] set a standard for what’s expected to all these young kids,” Harvard coach Katey Stone says.
But the numbers and praise alone don’t do enough to explain the contribution of this year’s senior class.
A microcosm of Crimson hockey, the group just clicks—perhaps too well, as their social preferences suggest.
“It’s the five days we have apart the whole year,” says Bellamy, referring to the squad’s shortened winter break. “And we want to spend them together.”
Despite having lost Pucci to injury, the group remains large and diverse, with six seniors making up nearly a third of the team.
“Collectively, we bring a lot because of that uniqueness between everyone,” forward Kaitlin Spurling says. “Together, we can all mentor the younger kids because we all are similar in some way to them and have different qualities that match theirs.”
These qualities are embodied by the team’s co-captains, Dempsey, the team’s leading scorer, and Bellamy, whose .919 save percentage propelled Harvard to sustained stints in the USCHO rankings a season ago.
Growing into the senior role does not appear to provoke any apprehension among the familiar bunch.