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Despite going down a goal in the first period, the Harvard women’s hockey team (1-0, 1-0 ECAC) scored two in the first five minutes of the second frame on its way to a commanding 7-1 victory over St. Lawrence (3-3-2, 0-1 ECAC) Friday night at the Appleton Arena.
“Our team feels really good coming off of that win,” said sophomore forward Marissa Gedman, who tallied the game-winning goal. “It’s huge, setting tone for the rest of our season. I’m really excited about how we played but also how we handled ourselves.”
The Crimson got on the board at 1:24 in the second period, as freshman forward Sami Reber carried the puck out of neutral territory and found sophomore forward Lyndsey Fry with a back pass.
“[Fry] trailed behind me and was calling for the puck,” Reber said. “I banked it back. She walked it in about 15 feet and hit a nice shot.”
Just 3:06 later, Harvard struck again. This time, junior forward Kaitlin Spurling found sophomore forward Gina McDonald on the run. McDonald played a one-touch pass to Gedman who put it away, forcing St. Lawrence into a deficit from which it would not recover.
“One of the [St. Lawrence defenders] pinched down and the puck fell toward me,” Spurling said. “Our coach has been getting on us about winning the little battles and being physical. I lifted her stick, pushed her off the puck and passed to [McDonald].”
The Crimson scored its next three goals on power plays, with junior forward Jillian Dempsey and Fry each finding the net in the second period. Dempsey helped Harvard keep its momentum going into the third, notching her second goal of the day at 6:49 in the final frame.
“Our two power play units are very strong,” Gedman said. “We’ve been spending extra time [on that part of our game] during and after practice…I wouldn’t say [the power play] was our greatest feature last year, so we’ve been working hard to change that. It was a huge thing for us to get those power-play goals.”
St. Lawrence—slated to finish sixth in the ECAC by the preseason coaches poll—was first to capitalize on a power play Friday night, as two Harvard fouls gave the Saints a 5-3 numbers advantage. Brooke Fernanez slotted the puck past junior goaltender Laura Bellamy at 18:22 in the first frame to give St. Lawrence its only lead of the day, despite an 8-5 Crimson shot advantage that period.
“We did a pretty good job on that kill,” Gedman said. “Those are tough odds, and they scored. But I think it was good for us ... We came back with fire in second period.”
Although the first frame proved unfruitful for Harvard, the Crimson dominated the play, outshooting the Saints, 46-18, on the night and forcing St. Lawrence goaltender Carmen McDonald to make 39 saves.
Reber and McDonald scored Harvard’s final two goals in the third period, helping the Crimson secure its first victory of the regular season.
“Our small roster doesn’t say anything about our depth,” Reber said. “Whoever’s on the ice can score, back check, do anything.”
The sophomore class had an impressive night for the Crimson, combining for 13 points on four goals and five assists. Gedman and Fry led the way, scoring four and five points, respectively.
“Our sophomore class is very close,” Gedman said. “Definitely this year, as sophomores, one of our focuses is on making a huge impact on the ice …We’re all very dedicated to the team and it’s great to see it on the scoreboard as well.”
Harvard showcased its depth Friday night, as eight different players scored points on Friday for the youthful Crimson.
“People are underestimating us and we’ve been trying to use that to our advantage,” Spurling said. “We’ve been able to play all three lines consistently…We have people from every single class contributing and wanting to win for each other. That’s what’s driving us.”
Friday’s game marked the first time in program history that Harvard played its season opener against St. Lawrence, as well as the Crimson’s first ECAC win of the year.
“We’re really excited to get going, league game or not,” Gedman said. “We only have 29 games, [so Harvard coach Katey Stone] has been telling us it’s just 1 out of 29. We’re hoping to get as many games as this in the future as possible, but we’re taking everything one game at a time.”
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