Five minutes into the third period, the Harvard women’s hockey team found itself in a much different position against Princeton than the last time it took on the Tigers. Unlike the teams’ two previous matchup, when the Crimson dominated the Tigers, 10-1, Harvard found itself in the midst of a 3-3 tie.
But for the second weekend in a row, sophomore forward Lyndsey Fry provided the offensive spark as Harvard (21-8-1, 17-4-1 ECAC) survived a late Princeton (12-14-4, 10-10-2) comeback to take a 1-0 lead in the ECAC quarterfinals series.
Fry registered her second consecutive hat trick, giving Harvard a much-needed boost to fend off the surging Tigers.
And it was Fry who put the Crimson up early, as a pass from junior forward Jillian Dempsey from the left fell through several Harvard and Princeton players before finding Fry. The sophomore picked up the loose puck and drew out Tiger goalkeeper Rachel Weber before moving left and slotting behind Weber for the opening goal.
Both offenses kept their opposing goalkeepers busy early on, increasing the physicality of the game.
Soon the Crimson doubled its lead, as freshman forward Samantha Reber found classmate defender Sarah Edney along the blue line. Edney laid the puck off for junior assistant captain Josephine Pucci, whose slap shot just slipped past Weber’s right shoulder.
But entering the second period, Princeton turned it up, controlling possession for long spells and peppering junior goalkeeper Laura Bellamy from distance.
And after eight minutes, the Tigers’ persistence paid off, as a Princeton shot rebounded off Bellamy to sophomore Denna Laing. The forward banged it past Bellamy to cut the deficit.
Though the Tigers began to gain momentum, Fry once again showed her offensive prowess on her second goal.
Picking up the puck in the neutral zone, Fry blew by a defender on the left, cut across the face of goal, and drew Weber out of her goal. The forward waited for her moment and then fired the puck home to restore the Crimson’s two-goal cushion.
And despite the squad’s lead, Harvard coach Katey Stone voiced concerns over its performance in the period.
“The second period was scattered and erratic for us,” Stone said. “We have got to clean some things up.”
And with the third period underway, Stone received more evidence of needed improvement, as Princeton brought itself level with two goals in the opening minutes.
After pressuring the Crimson defense, Laing found the puck at the slot and launched a shot past Bellamy for her second on the night. Three minutes later, as a Harvard power play ended, an errant pass from the Crimson allowed the Tigers to put on the offensive pressure. Brianna Leahy took advantage, firing a shot into the net that evened the score.
“The first shift [of the third period] didn’t go how we wanted it to go,” Fry said. “It kind of went downhill from there, and they popped in a few goals. We told ourselves we needed to step on the gas, or something bad was going to happen.”