The No. 2 Harvard women’s ice hockey team extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games with an easy 4-0 win over Quinnipiac Saturday.
In its second straight shutout—and eighth of the season—the Crimson (13-1-1, 11-0 ECAC) came out firing and didn’t slow down, handing the Bobcats (12-9-2, 8-5-1 ECAC) their second consecutive conference loss.
Since opening its season with a 2-0 win over Quinnipiac, Harvard has consistently sat atop the ECAC standings, but the Bobcats—who were in second place coming into the matchup and have now dropped to third—had a chance to jump into the top spot with a victory. A repeat performance of the shutout in October ensured the Crimson sole possession of the league lead for another day.
“We’re better now than we were then,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “We played good defense, we had good goaltending, and we worked our way up the ice. We used our speed last night, so that made a big difference.”
It took Harvard 10 shots to find the back of the net and break the 0-0 tie. With less than three minutes left in the first period, junior forward Kalley Armstrong picked up the rebound off a shot by co-captain forward Jillian Dempsey and beat Quinnipiac goaltender Victoria Vigilante for Armstrong’s sixth goal of the season.
The Bobcats senior goaltender was a presence in the goal, making 26 saves as the Crimson pounded the net. Despite laying out and making tough stops that kept Harvard off the board for most of the first period, Vigilanti couldn’t keep up with a dominant Crimson offense.
From the first goal on, the Crimson dominated the possession game, outshooting the Bobcats 30 to 18 on the night. Dempsey added her 18th goal of the season early in the second period, receiving a pass across the goal from junior forward Lyndsey Fry that sent Vigilanti sprawling. A quick slap shot put Harvard up, 2-0.
“We played really well as a team,” said Fry, who had two assists in back-to-back games for the first time this season. “We got the shots through that we needed to get through and had people going really hard to the net.”
Five minutes into the third period, the Crimson once again took advantage of a loose puck when freshman forward Miye D’Oench found the net after a shot deflected off Vigilanti’s pads. Nine minutes later, D’Oench fed sophomore forward Samantha Reber to cap off Harvard’s four-point win.
“[The back-to-back wins are] obviously a great way to start the New Year,” Fry said. “We’re definitely showing our league as well as the rest of the country that we’re not stopping just because it’s the New Year. We’re going to keep going, and these wins were huge.”
Freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer tallied 18 saves en route to her third shutout of the season. Maschmeyer’s 95.1 save percentage is second in the nation, behind only co-captain Laura Bellamy.
The Crimson failed to convert two power play opportunities but continued to look invincible in the penalty kill with a perfect 4-for-4 record. Quinnipiac’s best look came midway through the third period with sophomore defender Sarah Edney in the penalty box for hooking, but Maschmeyer and the Harvard defense fended off four consecutive shots by the Bobcats to improve its nation-leading penalty kill percentage to 96 percent.
Despite having dismantled its ECAC opponents thus far—outscoring them 49-4—Stone emphasized the importance of not discounting any team. The matchup with the Bobcats was the 16th of a 30-game season, and Harvard has 11 conference contests left to play.
“Every game is critical to us, and we take them one at a time,” Stone said. “We don’t look past anybody, and I think that’s what keeps up playing in the moment. It’s a long season, and if you get too far ahead of yourself, that’s when you get yourself in trouble.”
Coming off Friday’s 3-0 win against Princeton, Stone said that she was happy to see the level of play improve. Despite getting the win, the Crimson struggled to create scoring opportunities, a far cry from its 9-1 rout of the Tigers at the beginning of the season.
“Our goal today was to be better than we were yesterday, just as it is to be better on Tuesday than we were today,” Fry said. “A cool thing about hockey and our league is that on any given day, anybody can win, and that’s why we have to work for everything we get.”
—Staff writer Hope Schwartz can be reached at email@example.com.