Women's Hockey Seeks ECAC Title
One down, two to go.
Before the start of the 2012-13 season, the Harvard women’s ice hockey team (21-5-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) set its sights on bringing home the program’s first national title since 1999. The Crimson took a big step toward achieving its ultimate goal Tuesday, earning a share of the Ivy League championship with a 3-1 win over Yale. It was the team’s first title share since 2009.
“It’s awesome,” said freshman Mary Parker, who scored two goals Tuesday. “The seniors have been…explaining how much it means to us, so even though I haven’t been able to experience it before, it was just as exciting.”
Next up on Harvard’s checklist is claiming its first ECAC title since 2008. The Crimson will start navigating the eight-team field with a best-of-three series against Dartmouth on Friday.
“Now it’s on to the postseason, where everybody starts 0-0 and works their way from there,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “Our kids have had a tremendous season, and hopefully we can do some damage in the postseason.”
To date, the Crimson has played two wildly different games against the Big Green.
At the Bright Hockey Center in November, the Crimson crushed Dartmouth, 6-0. Three Harvard players scored three points each, and co-captain goaltender Laura Bellamy recorded 26 saves in the shutout win.
In the February rematch, Bellamy saw 26 shots again, but was only able to stop 24 of them as the two teams skated to a 2-2 draw on Dartmouth’s home ice.
“In the first game, everything just sort of went our way,” Stone said. “The second game was just a great hockey game. We had lots of chances, they had good chances, goaltenders played well on both sides. I like the matchup a lot—two good teams trying to score goals, that makes for exciting hockey.”
Since that second Big Green matchup, Harvard has struggled through the toughest stretch of its schedule, going 4-3-1 against competition that included three teams currently ranked in the top five.
“We’ve played a lot of hockey,” Stone said. “We’re resilient, we’ve been able to focus and stay in the moment, and hopefully we can keep doing that this weekend.”
During that stretch, the Crimson has dealt with a lack of scoring from co-captain Jillian Dempsey, who still leads the team with 23 goals. Dempsey has not found the back of the net in the last eight games. Her longest previous goal drought this season was two games.
“She’s working hard, she’s doing the things for us off the puck that we really need, she just has a tremendous work ethic,” Stone said. “She just has to keep doing all the other things, and when she gets good looks at the net, I’m sure things will happen.”
Harvard was also forced to play three games without junior first-line forward Kalley Armstrong, who missed a week of action while trying to get healthy before the playoffs before returning to the ice Tuesday.
With Armstrong out and Dempsey struggling, several Crimson players took advantage of their extra responsibilities. Parker and sophomore Hillary Crowe each have accrued four goals in the last month of play, as many as either of them had to that point in the season. Sophomore Samantha Reber and freshmen Dylanne Crugnale and Jessica Harvey have also upped their levels of contribution.