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Last night may have been the first time neither the Harvard or Dartmouth women’s hockey teams paid too much attention to the scoreboard in a matchup between the two rivals.
But that’s only because winning is not the goal of a preseason hockey scrimmage. Even so, both teams highly anticipated the exhibition game that featured No. 2 Dartmouth versus. No. 3 Harvard.
With sophomore Ali Boe and freshmen Emily Vitt vying to start between the pipes for Harvard, all eyes were on the goaltenders, who split time in net. Boe started the first period and played half of the second.
“Boe certainly had more action,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We didn’t get it going very early. We were back on our heels and they were all over us. Boe kept us in there; I thought she did a great job.”
“Boe played awesome. That’s just a testament to how intense that rivalry is going to be between goalies,” said co-captain Angela Ruggiero. “I definitely see it in Ali Boe, at least, she’s being pushed, she’s being challenged for her spot right now.”
Vitt relieved her halfway through the second period and finished the game.
Each saw a different style of play from both teams.
“Vitt didn’t see as many shots but I thought she did real well,” Stone said. “She made some key saves when she needed to. There was very different action when each goalie was in there, but I thought they did a good job.”
Each goalie gave up two goals in equal amounts of time, though Boe saw more shots.
The first scrimmage of the year did not sway Stone either way.
“It’s really going to take some time,” she said. “Those things sort of shape themselves out, or maybe not. Maybe they’ll go head-to-head all year.”
Stone also pointed out that Boe and Vitt offer different styles of play, reflecting their physiques.
“Ali plays the angles so well. She just sets up to the puck really well,” Stone said. “Vitt’s really quick up and down and coming across the crease. She has a bit more size, but you take so much away when you line up to the puck.”
Though an area of high interest, goaltending was not the sole focus. Having practiced for only a week on the ice, the Crimson showed kinks in its offensive arsenal.
“There were moments of great pleasure and surprise,” Stone said. “There were moments of disappointment, too. I told the kids ‘you handled a very adverse situation pretty well.’ Mixing kids around, not playing with the same combination for more than 10 minutes at a time, that’s a tough thing to do.”
Stone also noted that the team has to work on forechecking.
“We were stepping to the puck too slow. I’d like to see us be able to regroup the puck in the neutral zone,” she said. “We’re good at that. We’ve always been good at that. We just haven’t had enough time practicing that.”
The Crimson started out slowly in the first period, losing more faceoffs than it won and not putting as many shots on goal as Dartmouth did.
“We tried to do too much early on,” Ruggiero said. “Obviously once we settled down, we were moving the puck better. First period, we were getting mauled because we couldn’t get the puck out of there.”
Ruggiero noted that the defense had trouble on the transitions.
“I think we had problems with our break-out,” she said. “We were trying to make the long bomb instead of the short easy pass. As coach would say, ‘hit the singles, not the home-runs.’”
The Crimson started to gel in the second period, which featured alternate shifts of power play and penalty kill for both teams.
“At one point I was thinking ‘Oh God.’ They were all over us,” Stone said. “And then all of a sudden we gained our composure and we started to come at them a little bit more and that was very encouraging.”
“We actually put the puck on their stick quite a few times to come in on some good scoring chances,” said sophomore Julie Chu. “We can’t give that up. They’re a good team and they’ll be able to capitalize on that.”
Sophomore Jennifer Raimondi put the Crimson on the board in the second period, pouncing on a rebound. Junior Nicole Corriero scored Harvard’s only goal in the final frame of action, needling the puck through the legs of Dartmouth goalie Christine Capuano.
The scrimmage also gave Harvard a chance to see where it stood next to the preseason No. 2 team in the nation.
“They’re good. They’re awfully good,” Stone said. “They’re quick, they’re talented, they’re big, they’re physical. They’re good.”
“But, we play, we hang right there with them,” she said. “We’re just as tough as they are. We can be just as big as they are. We can be just as quick. We can be just as talented. We need to do the little things well. We tried to do too many big things early tonight.”
This season will feature a much different style of play for the Crimson and other traditionally dominant teams, like Dartmouth, Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota.
“It’s not going to be like last year for anybody,” Stone said. “There aren’t going to be these huge blowouts, they’re going to be squeakers.”
The Crimson has over two weeks before playing its season opener against Union in a two-day doubleheader Nov. 7 and 8.
“Everybody has gained some good young talent, and a lot of people have lost some seasoned ability too,” Stone said. “It will be an interesting year.”
—Staff writer John R. Hein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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