Everyone who indulged in putting together a bracket this week for America's favorite office pool should be familiar with the concept that it is very difficult to beat a good team three times in the same season.
The No. 2 Harvard women's hockey team will try to prove that theory tomorrow when it takes on No. 6 Dartmouth in the semifinals of the ECAC Tournament. The Big Green (19-10-0, 17-7-0 ECAC) is the only team that has beaten the Crimson (21-4-3, 17-4-3) twice in conference play.
Dartmouth, which is the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, spoiled Harvard's home-opener Nov. 12 with a 5-4 overtime victory on the night the Crimson unveiled last season's national championship banner. Last month in Hanover, N.H., Dartmouth completed the sweep with a 5-3 victory.
"It's payback time," junior winger Kiirsten Suurkask said. "They have had our number lately. But we are a much better team now than when we played them in the regular season."
Since the loss at Dartmouth, Harvard has gone on a seven-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 40-16. Over that time, the Crimson has victories over No. 1 Brown (22-3-3, 19-2-3) and No. 5 Northeastern (22-8-3, 15-6-3)--the two teams in tomorrow's other semifinal.
Both games will be at Brown's Meehan Auditorium. The Bears, as the top seed, opted to take the first game at 4 p.m., with Harvard and Dartmouth taking the ice at 7 p.m. If the Crimson wins it will advance to the championship game on Sunday.
To get to the title game, Harvard will have to deal with an aggressive Dartmouth defense that held the Crimson at bay during the regular season. Led by rugged defenseman Correne Bredin, the Big Green has a strong defense that relies on a physical forecheck to keep the puck out of its own zone.
"Dartmouth forechecked really well and we did not respond as we could have," sophomore center Jen Botterill said. "But we have been fired up all week in practice and we feel ready for anything they throw at us."
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