Riding a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s contest, the No. 6/5 Harvard women’s hockey team (4-1-0, 2-0-0 ECAC) hoped to keep its perfect season intact when it traveled to play crosstown rival Boston University (9-3-1, 4-2-1 WHEA).
Down two goals heading into the third frame, the Crimson was able to cut the deficit down to one with a deflected goal off of freshman Mary Parker. But Harvard was unable to net an equalizer and suffered its first loss of the season, 2-1, to the Terriers.
“We had a lot of time off [since our last game],” said co-captain and goaltender Laura Bellamy, whose team last competed on Nov. 3. “We were really excited to play BU. It was a great opportunity not only to play a really great team, but [it’s] kind of a battle of Boston here. We’re not happy with the loss, obviously, but we’re just going to try to bounce back.”
The Crimson went down a player early, when a checking infraction sent sophomore defender Sarah Edney off the ice less than four minutes into the first period. Towards the end of the power play, BU senior defender Kathryn Miller got a shot off, but Bellamy blocked the puck as it flew towards the upper-right-hand corner of the net. Miller’s shot was the only one Harvard allowed in the power play.
But the Terriers were able to capitalize later on in the period. Despite being down a man due to a hooking penalty, BU found the back of the net with less than a minute to go in the first frame. Junior forward Marie-Philip Poulin cut off a Crimson pass and dropped the puck back onto the stick of senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk, who fired a shot to the back of the net. The short-handed goal was the first shot that Bellamy let through the pipes all season, leaving the Terriers with a 1-0 lead.
“That was a tough one to give up, right at the end there,” co-captain forward Jillian Dempsey said. “We went back into the locker room [knowing] the effort was there, some of our execution wasn’t. After the first period, we were ready to bounce back.”
In the second period, a checking penalty put Harvard down a player 4:38 into the frame. Kohanchuk got a good look at the goal but could not convert for BU. The puck drifted in front of the net, but Bellamy was quick to get it out of the way and prevent another score.
The Crimson spent the rest of the power play on the opposite side of the ice, using strong offensive pressure to help kill the Terriers’ advantage. Dempsey and Parker both got shots off, but Terrier goaltender Kerrin Sperry blocked BU attempts.
Harvard was unable to convert on any of its scoring opportunities in the period. The team found itself down 2-0 halfway through the second period, following a goal from junior forward Louise Warren.
But the Crimson came out firing in the third period, finally registering a goal less than three minutes into the period. Dempsey’s shot bounced off the right leg of Sperry, and the puck ricocheted off Parker and across the red line.
The officials reviewed the play to see whether or not the puck had been kicked, but eventually ruled that the goal stood, and Harvard was only one goal down with 17:42 to go.
“We had a bit of a slow start [to the game],” Dempsey said. “We really didn’t start playing the game we play, Harvard hockey, until a bit into the third. At the end, all that energy, all those chances towards the net were more like [normal]. It’s just a shame we ran out of time. “
The Crimson did not register another goal, despite increasing its offensive pressure.
Harvard registered 10 shots on the goal over the course of the third period, compared to just two in the first frame.
“Coming away from today, we feel like we can do a better job putting in 60 minutes,” Bellamy said. “We feel like we had a good finish, but in the middle there we didn’t play as well.”
For the first time all season, the Crimson walked away from a game without a win, albeit against a formidable opponent. Boston University’s victory marked the third time the Terriers had defeated a top-five opponent this season.
“These are the kinds of games we want to challenge and test ourselves,” Dempsey said. “If you don’t go against the best, you’ll never know what you can be.”