At the sound of the final buzzer, the stands erupted in cheers and the Harvard women’s ice hockey team skated onto the ice to embrace freshman goalie Emerance Maschmeyer.
The reaction was justified considering the No. 7 Crimson (6-1, 6-0 ECAC) had just toppled No. 2 Cornell, 3-1, to end a losing streak that dated back to 2008. The win capped a perfect home weekend for Harvard, which downed Colgate, 4-1, on Friday night.
For everyone on the team, from seniors on down, it was the first time they had ever beaten the Big Red.
“Every single time we play them it’s a really challenging game, and they’re tough and competitive,” said co-captain Jillian Dempsey who had the biggest weekend of all. “To come away with a win, it feels amazing right now.”
HARVARD 3, CORNELL 1
And yet based on the Crimson’s performance on Saturday, the outcome did not seem so amazing.
Harvard outplayed the Big Red, outshooting its opponent, 33-22. While Cornell came in averaging 4.66 goals per game, it scored only when Erin Barley-Maloney beat Maschmeyer early in the second period to make it 1-1.
Then junior Kalley Armstrong scored the winner for Harvard 7:42 into the third, and junior Lyndsey Fry finished it off with an empty-netter.
Coming into the season, Cornell was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as ECAC champion, but with the Crimson’s big win the conference championship is now put in a different light. The win puts Harvard two points behind the Big Red in conference standings, with the Crimson playing two fewer games to date.
“We really focused on our forecheck,” Armstrong said, “getting on their sticks as fast as possible. Getting on them quick to stop them from setting up really helped us.”
Dempsey, who had five shots through the game, scored the first goal early in the opening period. The co-captain was able to nudge the puck past Cornell goalie Lauren Slebodnick to put Harvard up, 1-0. Dempsey extended her streak of games with at least a point to 21.
“[Friday] night we [talked about] getting a lot of shots on net,” Dempsey said. “This time we were really trying to just get pucks in the net, get the rebound, and create chaos in front of their goalie.”
The Big Red came out swinging in the second frame. Barley-Maloney scored from out wide only two minutes into the period, but Harvard quickly put the shackles back on the Big Red.
“Everybody was busting their tails all over the ice,” Dempsey said. “There was a lot of talking, and our defense and goaltending was phenomenal today. We were backchecking hard and giving a lot of pressure, and we had a solid, cohesive unit back on defense.”
The Crimson shut down the Big Red on all four of its power plays. Harvard is now 20 for 21 in penalty kill, which leads the nation.