Co-captain Jillian Dempsey only waited eight seconds to extend her point streak to 30 games Tuesday night against Connecticut. Junior Kalley Armstrong won the opening faceoff to classmate Lyndsey Fry, who advanced deep into the zone with the puck before dropping it back to Dempsey for a lightning-quick strike.
The No. 2/3 Harvard women's hockey team never looked back after that. At the Bright Hockey Center, the Crimson (14-1-1, 11-0-0 ECAC) controlled the ice from start to finish to skate past UConn (3-17-2, 1-8-0 Hockey East), 5-1.
"We like to talk about scoring early and often, so it was nice that we were able to do a little bit of both," Dempsey said.
Dempsey turned in her fifth multi-goal performance of the season as she registered her 19th and 20th goals of the season. After drawing a roughing minor from the Huskies’ Margaret Zimmer to put Harvard on the man advantage, the senior tapped in her second of the night off a rebound from sophomore defender Sarah Edney to put Harvard up, 3-1, 5:30 into the second period.
"[Dempsey's] consistency and relentlessness are the best examples for any young player in the game," Crimson coach Katey Stone said. "She's not trying to be fancy; she's just trying to be consistent."
Harvard came roaring out of the gates, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after five minutes of play with a goal from senior Kaitlin Spurling. The forward skated the puck out from behind the Husky net before slinging a wrister from the slot.
The Crimson dominated the first half of the first period, registering 13 shots on goal before UConn could muster one. But the Huskies found the net on their second shot of the game 15 minutes into the first with an unassisted marker from Kaitlin Hughes. The goal was the first tally by a visiting women's team at the Bright Hockey Center since Dec. 7.
"That [goal] was a little bit frustrating, especially with how few shots they got on net, but it was good in the sense that [UConn] battled. We knew they were going to come hard, and everybody's going to play us as hard as they can and give us one of their best games," Dempsey said. "It was a little bit of a challenge for us to figure out how we were going to respond to that, and we took that as incentive to work harder and put pucks on the net."
Harvard increased its stranglehold on the game after the first intermission. The Crimson added another two goals in the second frame while allowing only two shots on net.
Three minutes after Dempsey's power play goal, Fry swatted a Connecticut lob pass out of the air at center ice to lead the Crimson on a 3-on-2 break. Fry slid the biscuit to Armstrong, who fed sophomore defender Michelle Picard in front of the net for Harvard's fourth strike of the night.
"[Picard] has great timing," Stone said. "She knows when to jump into a play; she has a good sense of where pucks are going to pop out."
Picard, who entered the month with zero career collegiate goals, now has three goals in Harvard's last five games.
"Maybe a little bit of luck has just been finding the back of the net for me," Picard said, laughing. "Since last year, Coach has been getting on all of us defensemen to join up in the play and make it a four-point attack. So I've been focusing on it, and recently for whatever reason they've been going in."
The Crimson cruised through the third period as freshman goaltender Molly Tissenbaum relieved co-captain Laura Bellamy in net. UConn only forced Tissenbaum to make two stops in twenty minutes as Harvard finished the night outshooting the Huskies, 42-8. Harvard's NCAA-leading penalty kill unit turned away all four UConn power play opportunities.
"We used our speed really well today," Picard said. "We didn't give them any time with the puck."
Junior Margaret Chute wrapped up the scoring for the Crimson as the forward buried a top-shelf backhand with eight minutes left to play off a game-high third assist from Armstrong. The goal was Chute's first of the season and second of her career.
"[Chute] works so hard day in and day out and doesn't always get as many opportunities to go out there and show it," Dempsey said. "For her to get that beautiful backhander today, we're all fired up about that."
With the win, Harvard extends its unbeaten streak to 11 games. The Crimson will wrap up its longest home stand of the season this weekend in ECAC tilts against RPI and Union.
—Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at email@example.com