Women's Hockey Set for Weekend Contests

Riding a three-game win streak, the No. 5/6 Harvard women’s hockey team (7-1-0, 6-0-0 ECAC) looks to continue its strong start to its 2012-13 campaign when it hits home ice this weekend.

The Crimson will take on conference rival Dartmouth (4-2-2, 3-2-1 ECAC) in a Friday-evening showdown at Bright Hockey Center. The following afternoon, Harvard will host the Russian women’s national team in a foreign exhibition match.

It has been a busy week for the Crimson. Coming off back-to-back wins last weekend against Cornell and Colgate, Harvard hit the ice again Tuesday evening, picking up a victory against non-conference foe Northeastern.

The busy schedule translated into a lackluster win over the Huskies. The Crimson will need to get its speed and attack back for its upcoming matches.

“We’re going to focus on us, and try and get that urgency back,” co-captain Jillian Dempsey said. “If we are able to play 100 percent and find a way to dig down deep, even if we’re tired, then we’ll be in a great spot.”

The Big Green enters Friday night’s contest on the heels of back-to-back overtime games last weekend.

“Dartmouth is always a really challenging team to play,” junior forward Lyndsey Fry said. “They’re very similar to us, just a hard-working, grind-it-out kind of team. It’s always a battle.”

This season, senior forwards Reagan Fischer and Laura Stacey lead the Big Green with nine points apiece. Fischer has registered a team-high five goals this season, while Stacey leads the team with seven assists. Junior goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft is averaging a .907 save percentage on the season, with a 2.23 goals allowed average.

In last season’s first showdown between the two squads, Harvard netted an early first-period goal to take the lead, but Dartmouth stormed back with three in a row en route to a 3-2 road win. But the Crimson got the best of the Big Green the second time around, earning a 2-1 win in Hanover one week later.

“The Dartmouth game is huge,” Dempsey said. “They’re a big rival, and they always show up and play their best against us. We can guarantee that they’re going to come ready to fight. We just have to be ready from the get-go.”

Dempsey will look to continue to be a source of offensive firepower for Harvard. The senior leads the team with eight goals this season and nine assists for a team-high 17 points.

Fry has also been solid for the Crimson all season long. The junior has the second-highest point total on the team, after racking up five goals and eight assists in the first eight games of the season.

Senior Laura Bellamy and freshman Emerance Maschmeyer have both been strong for Harvard between the posts. While alternating time in the net, the goaltenders are tied atop the ECAC standings, averaging a mere 0.75 goals against per game.

The duo have led the Crimson to top the standings in goals allowed, only letting six pucks past through the first eight games of play. The next closest team, Brown, has let in 17.

On Saturday afternoon, Harvard will take a break from conference play when it hits the ice again against the Russian women’s national team. The Russian squad, who is playing many different teams in the area, lost to Boston University, 6-5, on Monday night.

But playing at the international level will not be all that new for some of the Crimson players. Harvard coach Katie Stone also coaches the U.S. international team, which has included Dempsey and Fry, while Maschmeyer has experience playing as a member of the Canadian national team.

But the most important matchup of the weekend is the first one on the Crimson’s radar.

Harvard will look to keep its perfect conference record intact when it takes on its conference rival Friday night.

And after a mediocre showing in Tuesday night’s game, getting back to sharp play is the main focus for the team.

“We’re working on getting pucks deep and pressuring hard,” Dempsey said. “We’re going to have to strike early and be ready to go from beginning to end. [Dartmouth is] definitely going to be a team that is going to give us a really, really good game.”