The Harvard women's hockey team was firing, literally, on all cylinders last night at the Bright Hockey Center as they defeated Middlebury, 1-0.
The Crimson (8-6-1 overall; 6-2-1 ECAC) rained 34 shots on the Panthers' net-minder and dominated the contest from the opening face-off. Middlebury 0 Harvard 1
"We played a great game," co-captain Winkie Mleczko said. "We played with our heads up and it really paid off."
Crimson goalie, freshman Jen Bowdoin, notched her fourth win of the season and if there is any such thing as an easy shut-out, Bowdoin got one.
With the Panthers managing only four shots on goal, Bowdoin should probably have been concerned more about falling asleep than Middlebury's anemic attack.
By keeping herself awake Bowdoin notched her third shutout of the season.
"Jen [Bowdoin] is really playing well," co-captain Diana Clark said. "She really wasn't challenged much today but we're very happy with her play."
Sophomore A.J. Mleczko supplied the only offense necessary for the Crimson with her 19th goal of the season.
Mleczko broke in unhindered on a two-on-one and wristed a high stick-side shot past Middlebury's goalie at 8:06 of the second period.
Junior Stacy Kellogg assisted on the goal that gave the Crimson its insurmountable advantage.
The Crimson was able to keep the Panthers from mounting any serious offensive threat with a combination of aggressive forechecking and an unbending defense.
Harvard was even able to smother Middlebury's offensive firecracker, Jennifer Hefner, who came into the game with 17 goals and 12 assists.
"Our defense really tightened up," coach Katey Stone said. "We broke the puck out of our own end really efficiently."
During some stretches in the second and third periods, the Crimson's forecheckers were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone through several line changes.
If there was a down-side to Harvard's performance, it was the quality of some of their shots. Many of the Crimson's 34 shots were turned aside easily, and several shots from the point sailed well wide of the Middlebury net.
"We took a lot of shots that made their goalie look good," junior Ellen Frump said.
The Panthers' goalie, who came into the contest with a 4.15 goals-against-average, did have to make some startling saves--including several point-blank stops on Crimson two-on-one breaks.
The Panthers defense was also aided by some non-calls by the referees infront of their net as they routinely pulled down Crimson attackers with out penalty.
The Crimson's dominating performance, which comes on the tail of a lack-luster 2-4 loss to Cornell Sunday, suggests that the effects of the two week exam-period layoff may be behind it.
Starting with this weekend's games against Colby and Bowdoin, Harvard will play six games in ten days--including two contests in the 17th annual women's Beanpot tour nament.
The Crimson's play over this stretch will spell the difference between success and disappointment in Stone's first season as coach.
"We have to show up every day to play hard," Stone said. "If we don't hustle all the time, then we're in trouble." Harvard, 1-0 at Bright, Arena Middlebury 0 0 0 - 0 Harvard 0 1 0 - 1
Har--Mleczko (Kellogg) 8:06.
Saves: Mid--Picard 10-11-11 32; Har--Bowdoin 2-1-1 4.
Power Play: H 0-2, M 0-3