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With one period remaining in the contest, the Harvard women’s hockey team looked to be skating its way to a two-loss weekend.
But with three goals in the third frame, the Crimson (13-8-2, 12-4-2 ECAC) was able to overcome a two-goal deficit and will its way to a 3-2 victory over Quinnipiac (18-10-1, 10-8) in Bright Hockey Center on Saturday.
From the opening whistle it was clear that the Bobcats, currently fourth in ECAC standings, were prepared for Harvard’s speed and intensity. While the Crimson controlled possession in the early minutes of the game, Quinnipiac kept Harvard’s skaters from getting too close to the net.
And trips to penalty box were all it took to derail the Crimson’s domination over the puck. By the end of the period, the Bobcats were starting to mount offensive pressure of their own and finished the frame only two shots behind Harvard.
The first period might have been characterized as a back-and-forth battle.
The beginning of the second was anything but.
Less than a minute into the frame, Quinnipiac freshman Kelly Babstock sliced through Harvard’s goal-line defense and fired the puck past sophomore goaltender Laura Bellamy. Currently the top-scoring rookie in the country, Babstock has had a knack for scoring on the Crimson and posted a hat trick in two teams’ last meeting.
Seeming to be inspired by their young teammate’s solo effort, the Bobcats took control of possession following Babstock’s tally. And less than six minutes later, Quinnipiac struck again. Rookie Erica Uden Johansson, a member of Sweden’s 2010 Olympic team, fired the puck across the goal, and classmate Amanda Colin stuffed it in the goal to put the Bobcats up by two. Babstock was credited with the second assist.
Quinnipiac entered the game on the heels of a 4-0 victory over third-place Dartmouth, and the Bobcats looked to be well on their way to their second weekend victory over an opponent higher in the ECAC standings.
“They’re good,” Crimson coach Katey Stone said of her opponents. “They play a strong team game.”
Harvard seemed to pick up its pace after the second goal but time spent killing penalties limited its offensive options.
“We were having a tough time with penalties,” freshman Kalley Armstrong said. “And so that pretty much took up all of the second period.”
Bobcats sophomore netminder Victoria Vigilanti lived up to her last name and shut down each of the eight shots the Crimson fired.
“Their goaltender does a tremendous amount to keep them there,” Stone said.
Heading into the final frame of the weekend, Harvard needed a to shift the momentum to its side.
Two minutes into the period, tri-captain Kate Buesser found freshman Kalley Armstrong streaking down the ice. Buesser’s pass caught Vigilanti off balance, and Armstrong was able to one-time the puck into the net to put her team on the board after 42 minutes of futility.
Three minutes later the game was tied. Sophomore Josephine Pucci slammed the puck into an open net after junior Alisa Baumgartner grabbed the attention of Vigilanti.
By the time Pucci evened the score, the Crimson had all the momentum on its side. Eventually, Vigilanti broke down for a third and final time.
Once again, it was Armstrong with the one-timer, this time off an assist from sophomore Kaitlin Spurling.
Armstrong’s two-goal effort came a day after missing the Princeton game.
“We’d have liked her in the lineup yesterday,” Stone said. “She was ready to go, and she did well. She took advantage of her opportunities.”
“I’d say it was more my teammates that made it happen,” Armstrong said of her performance. “They put it right on my stick. I just fired it towards the net. That was it.”
After two periods of fighting its way through Quinnipiac’s defense, Harvard was able to find space for three one-timer goals.
“Solely hard work, honestly,” Stone said of the open nets. “I mean, [the team] worked hard to get open, and they did a good job puck protecting, they kept their feet moving, they rolled off the cycle, but it was hard work...They were relentless and so again...another example of you put your mind to this and you dig in, and good things are going to happen.”
With its one-goal lead in hand, the Crimson controlled the puck in the final 10 minutes of play, allowing its opponents only two shots all period. Though the scoreboard showed the outcome to be a narrow escape, Harvard was able to close out the game with the composure of a dominating victor.
—Staff writer Christina C. McClintock can be reached at email@example.com.
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