With just under eight minutes to go in the final frame and the Harvard women’s hockey team holding on to a 2-1 lead, junior forward Lyndsey Fry was called for hooking, providing Rensselaer with a crucial power play opportunity to even the score.
18 seconds later, teammate and fellow junior forward Gina McDonald joined Fry in the penalty box on a cross-checking call, giving the Engineers nearly a full two minutes of having a 5-on-3 advantage on the ice.
But freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who completed a third-period shutout, thwarted any RPI attempts at a late comeback, making two critical saves, and the Engineers couldn’t convert on the special teams opportunity, despite taking five shots during their power play.
“Honestly, it’s not something that happens to us very often, to be on a 5-on-3, but we practice our penalty kill a lot, and we’re prepared for any situation,” Fry said. “ I think we’ve only had one goal against us on penalty kill, and it brings confidence to our game. We trust each other, we trust our goalies, and we do the little things to make sure that nobody gets by us.”
The Crimson (11-1-1, 9-0-0 ECAC) held on for the remaining five minutes on Saturday afternoon at Houston Field House to eke out a 2-1 victory over RPI (6-12-2, 4-6-0 ECAC), keeping its league record unblemished. With the win, No. 4 Harvard broke a four-game Engineers winning streak and catapulted over Quinnipiac into the top spot in the ECAC with 18 points.
“RPI is definitely a tough team; they always give us a tough game,” sophomore defender Michelle Picard said. “They’re physical and strong and they battle hard, so they’re a fun team to play against, and we always know that it’s going to be a tough one. It was a great win for us, especially coming back to start off 2013 with two wins.”
The final period was rife with special teams opportunities, as both teams were penalized three times. The Engineers came up empty-handed on all three of its power plays, all of which came in the third frame.
The Crimson only converted on one of its four power play opportunities, but that was enough to take home the victory. With RPI’s junior defender Madison Marzario on a penalty for checking early in the third period, Harvard quickly took advantage of the situation to break a 1-1 tie.
Senior defender Kelsey Romatoski sent the puck down the ice to sophomore forward Hilary Crowe, who found her shot blocked by sophomore goaltender Kelly O’Brien. But sophomore forward Samantha Reber was there to collect the rebound, and she passed it to Romatoski, who slid it past O’Brien to give the Crimson the lead for the remaining 14 minutes.
After lighting up the arena with nine goals against Union the night before, Harvard was held scoreless in the first period, where goaltenders on both sides achieved shutouts. But when the second frame began, the Crimson came out firing.
“It’s kind of tough coming off of a huge win like that, where the goals are just coming one after the other, to come and play a team that’s going to be a lot better in their defensive end,” Fry said. “ [Harvard coach Katey Stone] normally doesn’t have to say much because we’re pretty good at figuring out what we have to do as players, but we regrouped [after the first period] and realized that every game is different, and the way we won last night was a lot different from the way we had to win today,”
Less than three minutes into the second, senior forward Jillian Dempsey intercepted the puck from sophomore defender Kathryn Schilter behind the Engineers net and sent it to a wide-open junior forward Kalley Armstrong. Armstrong, who was waiting in the slot, slapped the puck past O’Brien’s pads to put Harvard on the scoreboard first.
The Crimson outshot RPI 26-20, taking half of its shots in the third period. Maschmeyer recorded 19 saves on the day, while her RPI counterpart notched 24 to hold Harvard, ranked sixth in the nation on scoring offense with 3.59 goals per game, to just two.
Engineers freshman forward Mari Mankey notched RPI’s only goal, which came near the end of the second period. Mankey appeared to be passing from the left of the crease, but instead of finding a teammate, the puck ricocheted off of Maschmeyer’s leg into the back of the net, knotting the score at one apiece.
With 1:08 left before the final buzzer, the Engineers pulled O’Brien from the game, opting to go for six attackers on the ice, but the offensive advantage failed to force an overtime period.
--Staff writer Samantha Lin can be reached at email@example.com