Going into the 35th Annual Beanpot Tournament, the No. 5 Harvard women’s hockey team (17-2-2, 14-1-1 ECAC) will be playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulder.
“Our attitude is that we have something to prove,” junior forward Lyndsey Fry said. “Especially after last year.”
It was a tough go-around for the Crimson in the 2012 tournament. Harvard dropped a 5-2 decision to Boston University in the first round. The Crimson then went on to suffer a 4-2 loss at the hands of Boston College in the consolation game.
“Last season, we struggled with beating teams outside of our conference that were ranked,” Fry said.
This year will be a fresh start for Harvard, who looks to avenge its poor showing last year and return to its winning ways.
The Crimson last captured the cross-town tournament title in 2010, edging out Northeastern with a 1-0 victory in the finals. Harvard has won the Beanpot a grand total of 13 times, second only to Northeastern’s 15 titles.
But success in this year’s Beanpot will not come easy. First up on the schedule for the Crimson is a Tuesday night contest against the No. 2 Eagles (20-4-2, 13-2-1 Hockey East).
“This game against BC is huge,” Fry said. “Of the Boston teams, they’re probably our biggest rival. It’s going to be a fun game.”
The Eagles enter the Beanpot fresh off a 6-3 road win against Maine, capping a three-game win streak. Boston College got off to a rough start to its 2012-13 campaign, dropping three of its first four games of the season. Since then, the Eagles have found its form. The team’s only loss since October is a 3-2 defeat at Mercyhurst two weeks ago.
For Harvard, it will be an important game against a familiar opponent.
“We always know they have a solid team,” Fry said. “We know most of the players, just from being a part of national camps and what not. They have a lot of talent. But I don’t think there is anything there that we can’t be ready for and we can’t be ready to compete with. It’s going to be a battle. I think it’s really going to be about who decides to show up that day.”
The Crimson has had a season full of successes so far, but the team has hit a few roadblocks in recent weeks. Riding a seven game win streak, Harvard suffered its first loss since November at the hands of Clarkson on Jan. 25. The team bounced back with a 3-2 win over St. Lawrence the next day. The Crimson enters the Beanpot tournament fresh off a 2-2 overtime tie against Dartmouth
“Obviously we were bummed to get the tie, but we weren’t disappointed in our performance necessarily,” Fry said. “I think after the [Dartmouth] game, the team is heading in the right direction. That was the first time in a while we’ve played true Harvard hockey. This is a good a time as any to get back on that track.”
It will be a taxing few weeks for the Crimson, though, as the team works to balance its critical ECAC weekend contests while also fitting in Tuesday night Beanpot games.
“It’s tough in February, when you’re playing a lot of games, and it is going to be about which team is in the best shape and has fresh legs,” co-captain Laura Bellamy said.
Harvard scheduled some Tuesday night contests earlier in the season against non-conference opponents to prepare for the Beanpot tournament.
“It always takes a physical toll, but we personally take it upon ourselves to do what we need to do to recover,” Fry said. “It’s good to have had some Tuesday night games already this season. Now, with school starting, we are realizing that we have all these other distractions, but when we get to the rink, it’s game time, whether it’s a Tuesday night, Friday night, or Saturday night.”
A strong showing over the next two weeks would add to the Crimson’s already impressive season. The tournament will also give Harvard a chance to compete against top-tier opponents before post-season play. BC and BU are both ranked in the top three teams in the country, while Northeastern sits just outside the top 10. The cross-town showdown promises to feature some of this season’s national title contenders.
“When the Beanpot comes around, it’s so much about pride that a lot of the toll that the season is taking is less noticeable,” Bellamy said. “You’re playing with so much pride.”
—Staff writer Brenna Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Followe her on Twitter @BrennaRaeN.