Four periods into its two-match road trip, the Harvard women’s hockey team had scored six unanswered goals.
But then the tide began to turn against the Crimson.
After soundly defeating Union, 5-0, on Friday, Harvard (6-7-2, 5-3-2 ECAC) failed to hold onto an early 1-0 lead yesterday at Rensselaer (8-7-6, 6-3-1), falling 2-1 in Troy, N.Y. In the process, the Engineers overtook the Crimson for the fourth spot in the ECAC rankings.
“Overall, it was a good hockey game,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “Both teams fought hard and [had] good goaltending…but [Rensselaer was] one better than we were today.”
The contest began well for the Crimson. A little over eleven minutes into the first period, senior forward Katharine Chute charged down the ice and found classmate Ashley Wheeler.
Thanks to tri-captain Kate Buesser’s check of a Rensselaer defender, Wheeler had an open shot, whipping the puck past the Rensselaer goaltender to give Harvard the early advantage.It was the senior’s first goal of the season.
“Something we’ve been working on…is attacking the net more with our players and getting in the goalies’ faces,” Buesser said. “That’s exactly what we did.”
The second period looked like a different match all together. After being outshot 7-4 in the first frame, the Engineers turned the tables on the Crimson, tallying 12 shots in the ensuing period, while Harvard managed only four.
The Rensselaer barrage finally paid off at the 13:41 mark, when Engineer forward Taylor Horton fired a shot past Crimson sophomore goaltender Laura Bellamy to even the score at one apiece.
The home team could have done even more damage in the second period had Harvard not killed two penalties. In the latter power play, Rensselaer held a 5-on-3 edge but failed to make anything of the opportunity, only managing one shot on goal.
In total, the Crimson stopped the Engineers on all six of its power plays, despite the fact that for much of the season, penalty kills have been Harvard’s weakness. The team’s kill percentage of 74.6 is the second-worst in the nation.
“[We] did a really good job of killing penalties today,” Stone said. “[We] read and anticipated and pressured when they needed to.”
“We were waiting for them to make a mistake and us to pounce on it, and that’s what we did,” Buesser added. “There were some gutsy plays by our kids out there.”
But in the final frame, despite killing another two penalties, the Crimson couldn’t keep the score tied at one. With 10:23 left to play, Rensselaer defender Andie LeDonne grabbed the puck near the Engineers goal, dashed down the ice and fired a slap shot past Bellamy to give the home team the 2-1 lead.
The second score proved to be the decisive one. Despite outshooting Rensselaer in the final period 8-5, Harvard failed to come back, giving the Engineers a one-goal victory.