Just a week after leaving New Haven with a notch in the tie column, the No. 5 Harvard women’s ice hockey team will face Yale this weekend in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Women’s Hockey Tournament.
Despite sitting in second place in the conference, the Crimson (21-4-4, 16-3-3 ECAC) has yet to beat the Bulldogs (8-14-8, 6-9-7) this season. Last weekend, a tie against Yale and a win over Brown gave Harvard the Ivy League crown.
On Friday, the two teams will meet in a best-of-three series at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The winner will advance to the semifinal round, which will occur the weekend of March 8.
“Yale has been having a great season so far,” senior forward Elizabeth Parker said. “Every time we played them it’s definitely been a great game. Going into this weekend, we’re just hoping to play our game, play Harvard hockey, and be able to come out with two wins.”
Parker had a three-goal weekend against the Bulldogs and the Bears last time on the ice. The senior nabbed two goals within 30 seconds in the middle frame in Providence, and was the first member of her squad to score in New Haven. Two of the strikes came off handoffs from sophomores Jessica Harvey and Mary Parker, Elizabeth’s younger sister.
Mary Parker sits in second place on the squad in points, with 25, and is tied with junior forward Hillary Crowe for goals this year with 13. Parker and fellow sophomore Miye D’Oench have been key to the Crimson’s offensive strategy this season, with D’Oench’s 17 goals leading the team.
Meanwhile, between the pipes, sophomore goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer has defended the net to the fourth-highest save statistic in the country—.948 percent, the top number in the ECAC—and freshman Brianna Laing has provided relief, while starting a number of contests as well.
“I would like to maybe lean on [the goalies] a little bit less going into the playoffs, but it’s definitely comforting knowing they are there if we need them,” D’Oench said. “Hopefully, we won’t give up quite as many shots as we have in the past at some points. I couldn’t be more confident in our goalies.”
Seeded second, the Crimson will enjoy home ice advantage for the 16th straight year, playing an Ivy rival that hasn’t made the tournament since 2008. Much like Harvard, Yale is led by a slew of young talent, with its five top scorers being either freshmen or sophomores. The Bulldogs will also entertain the return of rookie forward Phoebe Staenz, an Olympic bronze medalist who skated for Switzerland in Sochi this past month. Despite having missed 12 games this season, Staenz sits in 20th place nationwide for points, and leads her team in the same statistic. During her most recent absence of eight games, Yale notched just one victory.
The Crimson has faced the Bulldogs twice already this season. On Jan. 11, as the men’s team tripped under the lights of Madison Square Garden to lose the inaugural Rivalry on Ice contest against Yale, the women could not capitalize on a home advantage and were shut out by the Bulldogs, 2-0. The shutout was Harvard’s first loss in 12 games.
This past Friday, a second showdown with Yale led to an overtime stalemate. Trouble on the penalty kill allowed Harvard’s opponent to score two consecutive power play goals. D’Oench narrowed the lead in the second frame while freshman forward Sydney Daniels came up big in the final two minutes of the game to tie the contest, 3-3. While a win would have inched Harvard back to the top of the ECAC standings, the extra period wasn’t fruitful, and the team came away with a tie.
“We haven’t beaten them yet this year,” D’Oench said. “[We will be] just focusing on one game at a time, and learning from our last games, but using that momentum going into the first period of Yale is all we are focusing on. Just one period at a time."
Last year, the Crimson swept Dartmouth in two shutouts in the ECAC quarterfinals, and edged Clarkson in the tournament semifinals before dropping the championship title to Cornell on a late-game power play goal. Harvard has not won the conference crown since the 2007-2008 season.
“The entire way through the postseason], we want to be as focused as we possibly can,” D’Oench said. “Pretty soon, it’s going to be one bad game and your season’s over. We don’t want to let that happen.”
—Staff writer Cordelia F. Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonCordelia.