In an essential weekend against Ivy League and ECAC foes Brown and Yale, Harvard women’s hockey will look to extend its strong start to the season.
The Crimson (2-1-0, 2-1-0 ECAC) is hoping to maintain its upward trajectory heading into an important weekend with multiple ECAC matchups.
The start of the season looks promising for Harvard. After an impressive 6-1 win over McGill in an exhibition game, the Crimson picked up back-to-back wins over Ivy League foes Dartmouth and Princeton.
On the road at Quinnipiac, Harvard started out slow, with early penalties contributing to a quick 2-0 deficit. Although the Crimson scored late, the Bobcats held off a flurry of shots and Harvard’s comeback attempt came up just short.
“If we had played that whole game as we had played that third period… to keep fighting to the end is the way we want to be playing the entire season,” sophomore goalie Beth Larcom said.
Moving into an all-important weekend of ECAC matchups, Harvard will use the Quinnipiac game as a learning experience.
“We came out a little flat and we got down on penalties,” junior defender Kaitlin Tse said. “But we can rebound and get the momentum back.”
With its first Friday-Saturday slate weekend behind it, the Crimson will look to transition last week’s experience as it prepares for another weekend with back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.
“It was the first weekend we had two games in a row,” junior forward Kate Hallett said. “After Friday’s game you just move on into Saturday.”
With ECAC points on the line in both games yet again, this weekend will prove important in the standings down the line. Harvard will look to capitalize on important conference matchups early in the year following last year’s underperforming 5-13-4 ECAC record.
Last season, the Crimson split its series with Brown (0-6-0, 0-4-0), each team winning on the road. Although Harvard took a 3-1 contest early in the year, the Bears topped the Crimson by the same score in the last year’s season finale. Brown will be looking for its first victory of the season, as the Bears have begun the year allowing 51 goals and netting only 10.
Harvard and Yale (1-4-1, 0-3-1) also split their season series last year. Yale took its home game 3-2, while the Crimson blanked the Bulldogs 5-0 at home later in the season. Yale is also looking for its first conference win on the year, and the rivalry with Harvard adds a special flavor to the game.
This will be the last time that the seniors host the Crimson’s storied rival on home ice, but Harvard will travel to New Haven in January for the second installment of the rivalry. Each player in a Crimson jersey understands the importance of the rivalry matchup.
“We are really excited,” Hallett said. “There’s always fun and hype around the game with lots of energy.”
For players on both sides, the game is more than just another conference matchup.
“The Harvard-Yale rivalry runs deep and we all know that, so it’s really exciting to step on the ice with them,” Larcom said. “Board battles get chippy, celebrations get big.”
Although Yale carries special meaning to the players, both games hold equal weight regarding conference play. Wins in both games could propel Harvard to the top of the ECAC standings early in the season.
“Every game we play is the biggest game for us,” Larcom said.
Due to the importance of the games, the Crimson has undergone intense preparation to improve upon its weaknesses from the start of the season.
“Something that’s going to be huge for us is focusing on taking it one shift at a time, breaking it down to the little things,” Hallett said. “We focus on every shift, every little thing.”
As always, Harvard will look to defend its home ice by approaching each game as its own entity.
“We’ll focus on Friday and then move into Saturday and do it again,” Hallett said.