In the last two regular-season games of her college career, Harvard women’s hockey senior Randi Griffin bid farewell in decorated fashion. Netting a total of four goals against St. Lawrence (15-12-7, 11-8-3 ECAC) and No. 6 Clarkson (20-9-5, 14-5-3), Griffin helped the No. 4 Crimson (18-6-5, 13-6-3) clinch pivotal home-ice advantage in the upcoming playoffs and inch closer to the dream of hoisting a national championship.
On Friday night against St. Lawrence, the Crimson’s failure to convert on a power play early in the second period gave the Saints a 1-0 lead going into the third off. Harvard freshman Jillian Dempsey responded with her 10th goal of the season at 12:37 in the third period to tie the game. A delay-of-game penalty against St. Lawrence gave Griffin the ideal opening to showcase her skill and resolve as a veteran player.
With 25 seconds remaining in the game, Griffin sealed the Saints’ fate, outmaneuvering goalie Maxie Weisz on a penalty shot for the win.
And if Friday’s performance wasn’t enough of an indication of Griffin’s progress over the course of this season, then Saturday’s showing against powerhouse Clarkson laid all doubts to rest. Griffin lit the lamp on three separate occasions in the second period, posting her first-ever career hat trick—a natural hat trick, given that her goals came in succession in one period.
The Golden Knights’ Dominique Thibault robbed the Crimson of a win with a game-tying goal at 13:35 of the third, and Harvard later failed to capitalize on two penalties in overtime. But with Griffin’s top-notch performance and the 3-3 draw, the Crimson secured a third-place finish in the final league standings and thus home-ice advantage in the first round of the ECAC Women’s Hockey Tournament.
Harvard kicks off the playoffs against sixth-seeded Princeton (13-12-4, 11-7-4) this weekend.
“I think it was one of those days where the puck was on my stick, and the shots were going my way,” Griffin said of her success. “Some days they go in; others, they don’t. I was just fortunate.”
The seemingly good fortune shouldn’t fool anyone who’s been tracking the senior’s game play and dedicated work ethic throughout the season. Griffin also attributes her success to pinpointing the weaknesses in her game early in the summer months and putting in long hours to correct them.
“[For me], the summer leading up to the season involved working a lot on conditioning and consistency,” Griffin said. “That’s something we also didn’t have depth in as a team coming in. Everyone had to step up.”
Griffin’s season has been ripe with impressive showings against tough teams, including other game-winning goals against Dartmouth, Providence, and Union, but the forward struggled early on to fine-tune certain aspects of her game.
“One of my weaknesses has been my shot,” Griffin said. “I tend to score more in practice than in games. That has to do more with my hesitation, because I tend to want to [over]think when the puck is on my stick. In the past weeks, since I’ve been on the top two scoring lines, I’ve had coaches tell me that I have to get the puck off my stick much faster. And that definitely paid off against Clarkson.”
This weekend’s win against St. Lawrence and tie against Clarkson also allowed Griffin to play a part in making NCAA sports history, as Crimson coach Katey Stone tied Laura Halldorson’s record for all-time NCAA wins with 337.
“It felt really good [to be a part of the accomplishment],” Griffin said. “Coach is a very humble person, and that wasn’t her focus at all going into the games. It’s a great achievement for her.”
Griffin now has the chance to help Stone surpass the record with a win against the Tigers this weekend, and the momentum the senior has accumulated recently could be a huge asset. But Griffin is careful not to get complacent.
“Honestly, nothing’s really changed,” Griffin said. “I’m hoping to continue working hard. Hopefully, the puck will keep going in.”
Beyond her modesty and perseverance, Griffin is known for the distinct niche she occupies as a veteran member of the team.
“Randi’s not the most vocal of the seniors,” said teammate and junior forward Kate Buesser. “But she makes a big difference just bringing the Harvard hockey spirit alive. We have our captains, and then we have Randi, being a great complement to the other seniors. You can tell just by talking to her that she’s really here for the team and committed to helping us get back to the national championship.”
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