Watching the Harvard women’s hockey team face Union Saturday, you wouldn’t believe that it was the Crimson’s lowest-scoring win this season.
Harvard (16-1-1, 16-0 ECAC) dominated the possession game at Bright Hockey Arena, keeping the puck in the attacking zone for most of the contest and pounding shot after shot at Union goaltender Shenae Lundberg. The Crimson extended its fourteen-game unbeaten streak in a 1-0 shutout, a far cry from the 9-0 victory over the Dutchwomen (17-14-3, 0-9-3 ECAC) it collected earlier this month.
“I have to say that they definitely stepped it up defensively, and their goaltender was much more ready to go this time around,” said co-captain forward Jillian Dempsey, who tallied Harvard’s only goal. “We embarrassed them last time with a 9-0 win, so they were definitely not going to let that happen again.”
After 22 shots in 35 minutes of scoreless play, the Crimson finally found the back of the net in the second period. With Dutchwoman forward Stefanie Thomson in the penalty box for boarding, sophomore defender Sarah Edney received a pass from sophomore forward Samantha Reber and took a shot from the top of the zone.
Unlike the other 34 times Harvard took it to the net during the game, Lundberg was not able to hold onto the puck and make the save. As it bounced off her pads, Dempsey was there to finish the play from the left side.
“One of our focuses before the game was that we wanted to score on the power play,” Dempsey said. “Edney was at the blue line, and she took a great shot from the point, and I was just able to be there for the rebound.”
Dempsey’s goal was the only time Harvard would find its way past Lundberg, who let in six goals in the last matchup between the two teams. Playing behind a strong defense that crowded the attacking zone, Lundberg made acrobatic stops that kept the Crimson off the board in the first period.
Harvard’s best looks came early in the frame, when senior forward Lyndsey Fry—who led the Crimson with seven shots—attempted a wrap-around from the left side that ricocheted off Dutchwoman defender Haley Welch. Fry caught the rebound and fired it straight back into Lundberg, and she added two more shots before the first five minutes of the game had elapsed.
“We were moving it around, but the thing is, you can cycle it and keep it on the outside all day long,” Fry said. “At the end of the day, we have to get to the net and get more pucks in the net. We had a lot of shots, and they weren’t going in for us today, but all we needed was one.”
Harvard’s defense looked untouchable in the first 10 minutes of the frame, as they outshot Union, 12-0, to open the game. The Dutchwomen’s best chance came early in the second period, with sophomore forward Hillary Crowe off the ice for tripping. Union defenders Kelly Norton and Maddy McGrath alternated on four consecutive shots that were turned away by the Crimson’s remaining four skaters.
As the puck bounced around in front of the net, Dutchwoman defender Ashley Johnston took the final shot of the power play opportunity, which was stifled by Harvard goaltender Laura Bellamy—who notched seven saves and leads the country with a 96.8 percent save percentage. With the penalty kill—the first of two on the night—the Crimson’s nation-leading record improved to 56-of-58.
In the second period, the Crimson looked more aggressive in front of the net, driving to the goal and taking shots from close. With Crowe back on the ice, Harvard pounded the attack zone with ten consecutive shots, finally drawing the penalty that led to its power-play goal. With Union a man down, it took the Crimson only 17 seconds to find the back of the net.
“We tried to just find a way to get pucks in and just get different looks at the net, get some traffic going, but it was difficult,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said.
Union got one last look at the end of the third period after pulling Lundberg to add an extra skater, but Dutchwoman defender Alex Tancrell-Fontaine’s Hail Mary shot with seconds on the clock went wide, and the Crimson extended its home winning streak to a full calendar year in its ninth shutout of the season.
“The composure we had at the end, that’s something positive that we were really happy about,” Dempsey said. “These experiences, we’re grateful for these later down the line because we’d rather have them under our belt and know what it’s like to be in those tough situations now instead of in a one-game elimination.”
—Staff writer Hope Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.