A number of things returned to Bright Hockey Center last night along with the Harvard women's hockey team. One was intensity. Another was teamwork. A third was Sandra Whyte.
In Harvard's first Ivy League game since January 5, the Crimson (3-6-1 overall, 1-3-0 Ivy) upset a second-place Brown squad, 4-3, in front of an enthused crowd.
Wasting little time in her first Ivy League game since undergoing surgery last year, Whyte made her presence felt. Although she did not score, the junior co-captain assisted on a goal in each of the first two periods, drew a number of Bruins' infractions, and boosted the level of her team's play.
"Sandra was a huge factor in the first period," Stickles said. "She got everyone mentally into the game."
A Harvard-dominated first period ended in a 1-1 tie after junior Ginny Simonds scored only 46 seconds after Shannon Bryant put the visiting Bruins ahead, 1-0.
Simonds' tally, the first of two on the night, was able to nip any Bruin momentum in the bud. While two Brown defenders tied up Whyte, the puck slid through the crease untouched. Simonds came in from the right wing and blasted the loose puck into the back of the net from point-blank range.
"Harvard is a different team with Whyte out there," second-year Brown Coach Margaret Degidio Murphy said.
The Crimson was able to avenge a 4-1 shellacking they received earlier in the season without the services of Whyte. It was clear from the moment the puck was dropped that every member of the Harvard squad had come to play.
"They wanted the puck more than we did," Murphy said. "We only showed up for the final period."
It was middle stanza magic, as the Crimson scored three unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 lead after two periods. Simonds' second tally of the night, along with scores by Jen Minkus and Bev Stickles, constituted the Harvard barrage.
Minkus was able to establish position in traffic and knock Harvard's second goal home from inside the crease. Taking a feed from freshman Emily Buxton, Minkus put the Crimson up, 2-1.
Five minutes later, Stickles was able to deftly carry the puck from behind the Harvard blue-line all the way up ice and put the Crimson ahead, 3-1. The junior defender unleashed a textbook wristshot, waist high and so crisp that it flat-out beat Brown goaltender Kate Presbrey and gave the Crimson a little insurance.
Beating Presbrey was not the easiest task, however. The freshman netminder came up big for the Bruins all night, blanking Whyte twice on clean breakaways and keeping the outpaced visitors from Providence in the game despite their sub-par performance.
"Kate Presbrey is an excellent goaltender," Harvard Coach John Dooley said. "She has a great glove and she really played well."