A lot of people have the wrong idea about women's ice hockey. Who knows where they pick it up, but they picture some sort of roller-derby-revised, an "unladylide" pseudo-sport. "Most people are really surprised when I tell them I play hockey," says Firkins Reed, co-captain of Harvard's women's team. "Some are intrigued, but others think it's awful and the sport ought to be abolished. 'Women don't play football,' they say."
But if you've been among the gradually growing crowds at the Crimson's games this year, you know the women play a fast and clean version of hockey. Coach John Dooley's players may never make the Montreal Canadiens, but this season they've been skating and headmanning the puck past most of their opponents while setting a 6-5 record, the best midyear mark in the team's short history.
The pace of the women's game is not quite that of the men's but Coach Dooley has done a strong job of drilling skating and passing skills into his squad--part of the reason his first season may end up as the team's first winning year.
But as the five losses make clear, it hasn't been all smooth sailing for the Crimson. The team has had chronic difficulties curiously similar to those of the men's team: great passing and playmaking, but weak or not enough shooting. (Maybe the similarities come from the two coaches' watching each other on opposing teams in the late 1950s, when men's coach Billy Cleary played varsity at Harvard, and Dooley played for B.U.: more on that in another column.)
You can spot the problem through the stats of the scoring leaders whose goal-totals are well behind their assists, like co-captain Reed (four goals and seven assists, for 11 points), co-captain Julie Start (1-6-7) and Alex Light-foot (0-5-5), Wingers Liz Ward (6-5-11) and Jennifer White (6-4-10) are rapidly picking up the scoring touch. Dianne Hurley (8-10-18) is the only one who seems to have it down pat.
It sheds no bad light on Cheryl Tate, who has played well all season, to note that opposing netminders' save percentages have been consistently higher than Harvard's they've to face few hard slapshots or wristers.
With that in mind, Dooley is planning a complete revision of his lines, hoping to pair up his scorers and his playmakers, as the Crimson starts the second half of its season tonight against Wesleyan.
A Closer Match
Looming ahead for Harvard is a heavy Ivy League schedule: games against Yale and Dartmouth, and the League tournament at the end of February.
And in case you want to catch any of the action (you knew this was coming, didn't you) the Crimson will skate at the Bright Center Feb. 10 against the Big Green. Be there, sports.