The Harvard women's ice hockey team's 7-6 overtime loss to Dartmouth on Wednesday night was the result of bad luck, bad timing (reading period) and, well, bad play.
Dartmouth cruised into the third period with a 6-2 lead, having waltzed around Harvard players enroute to a five goal second period. Although Harvard didn't seem to have a prayer of muscling its way back into the game, the Crimson impressively surged to a 6-6 tie with 1:45 remaining in the third period, exhibiting its most aggressive play of the season.
Both teams had weathered lack-luster periods of play but the overtime period would showcase the talents of the two teams. But with 1:41 remaining in overtime, Harvard suffered an unlucky penalty when Sandra Whyte was called for tripping.
Seconds after the penalty call, Dartmouth senior Lori Jacobs accepted a lethal pass, flicked a shot past goalie Erin Villiotte and gave the Big Green a 7-6 face-saving victory.
In this inconclusive game, the teams exhibited contrasting, if inconsistent, styles. The strong Big Green players pushed Harvard off the puck and exploded for some incredible individual efforts, including two short-handed goals. Dartmouth is a team of pinpoint passers and sharpshooters and it found every miniscule hole left by Villiotte.
Five minutes into the game, last year's rookie sensation Gretchen Ulion (9 games, 18 goals, 12 assists) broke by Harvard defenders and scored for a 1-0 Dartmouth lead. She went on to score three more goals, virtually unharassed by the Crimson.
In the forgettable second period, senior captain Jacobs added two goals, sophomore standout Kim Reid notched one, and towering defender Kim Cohen stripped pucks from a frustrated Harvard offense.
"They have a different breakout style than most teams, and there wasn't one place we could concentrate--all their players are very talented," senior Co-Captain Bev Stickles said. "But, as far as the second period, we simply weren't aggressive."
Harvard made up for the second period with relentless forechecking in the third period. The Crimson kept Dartmouth pinned in its own end, finally shuting down its passing options.
The second line of Jen Minkus, Lauren Messmore, and Kim Landry sparked the comeback, with Minkus battling along the boards for the puck. Freshman defender Winkie Mleczko pushed the puck to her in front of the net and Minkus blasted it home at 4:41 of the third to close the score to 6-3.
Sandra Whyte and Joey Alissi combined for the next two goals. On the first, Alissi fed Whyte on a give-and-go and put the rebound off Whyte's shot between the pipes. Whyte's goal came from behind the net as she banked the puck off goalie Sarah Millet's skate, tightening the gap to 6-5 with 2:45 remaining.
In the final two minutes, Dartmouth's defensive zone turned into a shooting gallery. Several Harvard shots glanced off skates, until the puck rolled to Stickles at the top of the circle. Stickles blasted the puck through a crowd of players and tied the game at 6-6 with 1:45 left in regulation.
"We were asleep until the third period, but it really was a great comeback for the kids," Harvard Coach John Dooley said. "Jen Minkus really picked us up. I had visions of her scoring the winner, but then we got that penalty..."