The battle between the No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team and No. 5 Cornell was a classic heavyweight bout. Friday night at the Lynah Rink, the two teams dueled for ECAC supremacy in a physical game marked by 14 penalties, including four roughing calls.
“There were times where we had them on the ropes and they had us on the ropes,” Crimson coach Katey Stone said.
Ultimately, it was speed, not strength, that helped Cornell protect its home ice with a 3-1 win.
Eight minutes into the third period, the Big Red’s Jessica Campbell broke a 1-1 tie after winning the puck at center-ice. The junior blew by Harvard’s defense on the side wall and carved back towards the goal. Gliding across the crease, Campbell enticed freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer to slide across with the shooter before Campbell deposited the puck on the shortside.
Six minutes later, Campbell gave Cornell a security goal in similar fashion. During a penalty kill, the forward won possession of the puck in the neutral zone and used her speed to create a breakaway opportunity. This time, Campbell fired a shot by Maschmeyer on the far side.
“We played them pretty tough and they got a couple of extra bounces and were able to capitalize,” Co-captain Jillian Dempsey said. “Sometimes plays like that where they were able to capitalize, they were able to get around us.”
With the victory, Cornell (21-5-1, 16-3-1 ECAC) retained its ECAC point lead, though Harvard (19-4-2, 15-2-1) still controls its own destiny with four games to play.
Campbell’s second marker was a low point for the Crimson power play unit, which was 0-for-6 with a man advantage.
“We tried to find the seams and we had some looks at the net but we need to move the puck,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “Cornell, one of the reasons their penalty kill is good is that they block a lot of shots, and so [there are] things to learn and we hope the next time we get the opportunity to play them we’ll make some pretty good adjustments.”
The Crimson’s power-kill was just as effective as the Big Red’s, as Cornell went goalless on four power-play chances. The two defenses were strong against even-strength attacks as well, surrendering few good looks to opposing shooters.
The Big Red’s first goal came when a shot from the top of the circle caromed off the leg of a Harvard defender. The puck got past Maschmeyer just after senior Kaitlin Spurling finished serving a two-minute cross-checking penalty.
The Crimson responded in the second period with a goal of its own. Eight minutes into the period, sophomore Samantha Reber dropped a pass to classmate Hillary Crowe, who wove into the slot and flicked a shot past Cornell’s goalie. Crowe’s goal was her second in as many games after going goalless for two months. Reber is also on a hot streak; including Saturday’s game against Colgate, the sophomore has tallied six points in three games, twice as many as she had in the previous month.
Following Crowe’s goal, the two teams went twenty minutes without a goal before Campbell finally broke the tie. During that time, the two squads showed signs of increasing frustration, combining for seven penalties, including calls for roughing, boarding, hooking, and slashing. Several other controversial open-ice collisions were met with play-on calls from the referees.
“That’s the kind of team they are; they try to intimidate you with their size,” Stone said. “We handled that well but I think we can play more physically under control as well.”
Harvard was unable to respond to Campbell’s two-goal third period. It took a number of shots late but many flew wide or were blocked as Cornell’s goalie was forced to make stops on only six of 23 shots.
“I think Cornell is a good team and they showed up ready to go and they had a bit of an edge over us and we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Dempsey said. “We weren’t getting to the goalie’s face enough; we weren’t putting shots on net. We weren’t really challenging her.”
After the scoreless third, the Crimson left the ice with just one goal for the fourth time in seven games. Prior to that stretch, Harvard had scored at least twice in 14 straight games and had been held to one goal only once in its first 19 games.
“You can’t overanalyze it,” Stone said. “That’s the way it typically should be against real good goaltending. It is what it is, so I’m not concerned about it.”
—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jacobfeldman4.