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As the last minute ticked off the clock Friday night, the Harvard women’s hockey team assailed the Princeton goal with a flurry of shots—including three from tri-captain Kate Buesser.
Unfortunately for the Crimson (12-8-2, 11-4-2 ECAC), this late effort would not be enough, as Princeton (11-11-1, 8-7-1) held on to a 3-2 lead at the Bright Hockey Center to end Harvard’s recent hot streak.
“We all played hard tonight,” junior forward Alisa Baumgartner said. “Our system was working well, and we were all over the ice…We came out ready to go, and had some [good opportunities].”
The Crimson created more scoring opportunities during first period of play—recording nine shots on goal to the Tigers’ five—though the scoreboard showed a different story. With 2:40 remaining in the first, a hooking penalty on senior forward Katharine Chute gave Princeton an advantage near the close of the period. The Tigers made the most of the contest’s first power play, netting a goal 1:14 before the buzzer.
Coming into the second period, Harvard stayed composed and was able to contain the Tigers’ attack. After just under eight minutes of play, tri-captain Liza Ryabkina evened the score for the Crimson.
After a shot by sophomore forward Jillian Dempsey was deflected by the Princeton goaltender, Ryabkina swooped in and scored off of the rebound at the mouth of the goal.
“It was a tight game,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “Everything was back and forth, back and forth…The goaltenders on both sides played very well.”
Sophomore goalie Laura Bellamy had 20 saves for the Crimson on the night, while her Princeton counterpart Rachel Weber recorded 25 stops.
Harvard took its only lead of the game a few minutes after tying the game, as Baumgartner netted one of her own off of a pass from sophomore defender Josephine Pucci. The shot, assisted by Pucci and freshman forward Elizabeth Parker, also put Harvard ahead in shots on goal by double figures, as Harvard recorded its 20th shot on goal to Princeton’s 10.
The Crimson would not be up for long, though. Another late surge put the Tigers back in the game with just over two minutes remaining in the period. Charissa Stadnyk snuck the puck past Bellamy on a shot the goaltender initially appeared to have saved.
After about five minutes of play in the third, Princeton took the lead again, this time for good, when Denna Laing stuffed in a rebound off a Bellamy save.
The Crimson kept the pressure on, creating many scoring opportunities during the remainder of the period. A few of Harvard’s most dangerous chances came in the last seven minutes, as a checking penalty on the Tigers with 6:26 to play gave the Crimson its second and final numbers advantage of the period.
As time began to run out, Harvard was forced to pull its goaltender in an attempt to gain one last offensive advantage.
“With just a couple seconds on the clock, we knew we were a goal down and had to throw everything at the net,” Baumgartner said.
Though the last minute was Harvard-dominated, the Crimson was unable to put one away before the clock ran out.
“Of course [losing to Princeton] was disappointing,” Stone said, “We know there were a lot of things we could have done better… especially defensively [with] our 5-on-5 zone coverage.”
Harvard entered Friday’s contest on a six-game winning streak—the fourth longest active streak in the nation. The Crimson was also ranked second in the ECAC coming into Friday’s game.
Though the game against the Tigers was a big one for Harvard, Stone emphasized the importance of every game on the team’s schedule.
“It’s just another big game for us and we try to treat every game the same,” she said. “[Princeton] always comes in with a lot of jump and it’s great to play them.”
Despite the loss, Harvard remains positive as it looks toward its next challenge.
“Our focus is always to get pucks and bodies to the net and to outwork and outhustle the other team,” Baumgartner said. “We came out trying to do that…We didn’t get the result today, but we’re going to pick it up and be ready for [our next game].”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at email@example.com.
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