The Harvard women’s hockey team earned a spot in the ECAC championship game for the first time since 2008 on Saturday afternoon at Lynah Rink. The No. 6/7 Crimson (24-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) defeated No. 5 Clarkson (28-9, 18-4), 4-2, despite being outshot by the Golden Knights in the semifinals matchup.
Clarkson’s high-powered offense was responsible for two of Harvard’s six losses this season, beating the Crimson by a score of 3-1 in both games. But the third time was the charm on Saturday, as freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer—who was named tournament MOP—made 26 saves to help the team secure its chance to battle for the league title.
“Everybody was ready, everybody played their role, and we had a lot of good energy,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “We played Harvard hockey.”
The Crimson tallied three goals before the Golden Knights could convert any of their 28 attempts on net. Freshman forward Mary Parker put the Crimson on the board just two minutes into the first period. Parker’s goal came after the puck was deflected off of a Clarkson defender’s helmet and into the net.
“Tonight we were just ready to go out there and play the way that we can play and take it to them,” co-captain Jillian Dempsey said. “We were fired up and didn’t let anything get in our way.”
Harvard was offensively dominant in the second period of play, outshooting the Golden Knights, 10-4. But it wasn’t until late in the second frame that Dempsey gave the Crimson its next goal off of a power play. Sophomore Sarah Edney sent the first shot, after a Clarkson hokoing penalty, rocketing towards the goal, giving Dempsey the chance to find the back of the net on a rebound.
“Our power play has been great the past two games, but in the beginning [of the season] we were struggling,” Dempsey said. “We really needed that [goal] at that point in the game.”
Harvard’s offensive momentum carried over to the beginning of the final period of play. Golden Knight goaltender Erica Howe, who was recently named ECAC goaltender of the year, continued to be showered with shots on net. Only three minutes into the frame, freshman forward Miye D’Oench, assisted by Parker, notched Harvard’s third unanswered goal of the game.
“We got to the net [and] took some tough shots for the goaltender to handle,” Stone said. “She was off balance and had to go side-to-side, so we made it tough on her.”
But Clarkson began to chip away at the Crimson lead with a goal from Jamie Lee Rattray. The Golden Knights then attempted to convert on a power play opportunity created by a Harvard hooking penalty. Clarkson went six-on-four, with Howe leaving the goal, trying to make up the two-point deficit.
The Crimson maintained its top-ranked penalty kill, stopping the Golden Knights from finding the back of the net on any of its five power-play attempts. Parker then stepped in, scoring again with a short-handed goal off an assist from Dempsey. It was Parker’s eleventh goal of the season.
“They’re stepping up, and they’re playing well,” Stone said of the team’s freshmen. “Their work ethic is what’s most important, and they’re doing a great job with that.”
Clarkson converted on one final attempt to close the scoring with a goal from Vanessa Gagnon in the final 30 seconds of play.
Maschmeyer, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, moved to 3-0 in her playoff career with the win. The freshman’s shutout streak lasted for almost three entire games, but fell when the Golden Knights scored in the third frame.
No one on the Harvard squad has ever been to the ECAC championship game, having dropped last year’s semifinals contest to St. Lawrence.
“Every year [the semifinals] have been really close for us, and we come up short,” Dempsey said. “It’s been a real heartbreaker.”
The Crimson was able to break the cycle of remaining semifinalists with the win, and the impressive playoff performances helped secure an NCAA tournament bid.
“It’s amazing, since the beginning I’ve said that I have a tremendous amount of faith and confidence in this team and how hard we work and how hard we prepare,” Dempsey said. “It’s really great to see it payoff.”
—Staff writer Claire K. Dailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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