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The ECAC tournament got off to a rocking start for the Harvard women’s hockey team on Friday afternoon.
Freshman forward Miye D’Oench provided the spark the Crimson needed to take home a momentous victory over Dartmouth after a quiet first frame-and-a-half.
D’Oench picked up a loose puck off of a broken play and carried it into the zone. Opposing goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft came flying out of the crease to no avail, as the Dartmouth goaltender could not break the momentum of the charging D’Oench, who lost her balance and took the puck into the back of the net with her.
“I think everything we do is started by playing physical, tough defense,” junior forward Jillian Dempsey said. “We work from there, move it up the ice, and try to start a rush if we can.”
The go-ahead goal was reviewed and upheld as No. 6/7 Harvard (23-5-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) went on to beat the Big Green (16-10-5,11-7-4 ECAC), 3-0, in the first of the best of three opening round series.
The night was special for Harvard coach Katey Stone, who reached the 400-win plateau in the successful outing.
“It was incredible,” Dempsey said. “It was a really emotional day for [coach Stone] especially, but to be a part of something like this is much greater than this team. It’s the program, the tradition, and Harvard hockey.”
Fresh off her ECAC rookie of the year award, freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer was perfect in her first postseason appearance, stopping all of the Dartmouth’s 21 attempts on net.
“I think everything kind of clicked,” Maschmeyer said. “It was an awesome first game.”
Though the squad couldn’t find the back of the net early on, Harvard set the tone for what would turn out to be a one-sided affair. Through thirty minutes, the Crimson outshot its opponent 20-11.
Dempsey and junior forward Lyndsey Fry’s agility led to opportunities in close, but freshman forward Mary Parker had the best opportunity of the opening frame. The freshman collected a rebound and launched a shot just wide of a net left open by an out-of-position Holdcroft.
“We just try to get pucks at the net and create traffic in front,” Dempsey said. “Sometimes they’re not going in but the one thing we control is how hard we keep working.”
In the end, Harvard finished with a 42-21 advantage in shots on goal.
After nearly two periods without a a penalty, the Crimson power play unit took over in the third period.
Junior forward Kalley Armstrong received a cross-ice pass from sophomore defender Michelle Picard on the man-advantage and slid the puck behind Holdcroft to provide the first of two insurance goals.
Senior forward Kaitlin Spurling added to her season’s point total while giving Harvard some addittional breathing room.
Her one-timer, set up by sophomore forward Samantha Reber, put the exclamation point on what turned out to be a strong all-around performance.
The Crimson powerplay unit’s success flew in the face of a few regular-season trends.
Coming into the game, Harvard converted on just 16 percent of opportunities while Dartmouth had one of the better powerplay kills in the conference at 87 percent.
The Big Green’s best opportunity of the night also came in the third on a powerplay. The would-be equalizer was acrobatically kicked away by Maschmeyer.
“Their player picked it up and I followed it to the other side of the net,” Maschmeyer said of the second-chance opportunity. “I think that was my biggest [save] of the night. It was kind of a momentum-stopper for them and big for us.”
Including its second win over Dartmouth on Saturday, Harvard has outshot its opponents 235-106 in its last six contests.
“We’ve been dominating teams in my opinion,” Dempsey said. “It was great tonight that we were able to get on the board as much as we did because when that effort starts to pay off, our confidence goes up a little.... Hopefully there is more where that came from.”
—Staff writer Daniel A. Grafstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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