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NOTEBOOK: Defense Proves Dominant for Women's Hockey

By Kurt T. Bullard, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard women’s ice hockey team may not have had its cleanest game on the ice on Saturday, but the squad’s defensive performance helped the Crimson skate clear past Rensselaer.

Harvard (16-2-2, 12-2-1 ECAC) never trailed in its second game in as many nights, finishing off a weekend sweep by defeating RPI (10-13-2, 6-7-1), 3-1, at the Bright-Landry Center.

“The second period was pretty ugly with four penalties, I believe, on us,” Crimson coach Maura Crowell said. “And that makes it tough to put the puck in the net when you’re down a man, down by two, at times. I was happy that we came out in the third period ready to go [and got] the go-ahead goal.”

Sophomore forward Miye D’Oench’s empty netter from behind the blue line with 37 seconds remaining in the contest all but guaranteed the win for Harvard—its seventh in its last eight games. The team’s lone blip in that span came against rival Yale.

“That empty net goal really sealed it off,” Crowell said. “[The team’s performance was] a good effort, but I think we have had better.”

COOLING DOWN THE ENGINE[ERS]

The Engineers had been offensively proficient as of late before meeting Harvard on Saturday. RPI had averaged three goals in its last seven games en route to a 4-2-1 record. But the defense and sophomore goalie Emerance Maschmeyer slowed down the Engineers, only allowing one goal on 31 shots to help lead the Crimson to the victory.

“Emerance today made some huge saves along the way,” Crowell said. “They had some Grade-A chances that she found a way to get a piece of. She played really well.”

Maschmeyer almost notched a shutout, which would have been the first against RPI this year. She managed to get a piece of junior forward Ali Svoboda’s shot from the middle of the offensive zone in the third period, but it was not enough, as the puck trickled past her outstretched arm.

“I’m sure she’ll want that one back,” Crowell said.

THE PENALTY KILL

Despite six power plays for RPI on the day—including a prolonged 5-on-3 chance—the Crimson allowed no goals on the Engineers’ man-up chances.  Overall this season, Harvard has experienced similar success on the penalty kill. Despite being the second highest penalized team in the ECAC with 70 penalties on the year, the Crimson has only allowed one goal down a player on the ice. The team’s lone concession on the penalty kill came in a 3-2 win against Northeastern.

“We certainly don’t want to get this many penalties,” Crowell said. “We’re very confident in our [penalty] kill. I think we try to feel out the games and the referees, and try to play within the rules. [There were] some tough calls on us [but we] found a way to get it done.”

Such a strong penalty kill has aided the defensive effort of Harvard this year. Harvard leads the ECAC in goals against average with 1.14 on the season.

“We stress being very disciplined on the penalty kill,” junior forward Hillary Crowe said. “I thought that we were very good on that…. [We were] disciplined and didn’t let RPI create too much, so we were happy.”

OUTSHOT BUT NOT OUTPERFOMED

RPI registered 10 more shots than Harvard on Saturday, but the Crimson notched two more goals than the Engineers to emerge victorious. Such has been the trend of the season thus far for the Cambridge residents. While Harvard has recorded 359 shots on the year, opponents have registered 393.

But the discrepancy is not evident in the team’s record. Despite being seventh in the ECAC in shots, the Crimson ranks third in the conference with 2.86 goals per game.

THE GOLDEN CROWE

Hillary Crowe added to her impressive offensive performances of late, notching two goals in the contest, including the game winner in the third period.

“The first one was an excellent feed by [defenseman Sarah Edney] and I was in a great spot,” Crowe said. “The second one was a great line effort…. I had the whole net effort.”

The junior has recorded five goals in her last four games .

“She’s on a roll,” Crowell said. “She’s a huge part of our offense right now. She’s in the zone.”

Staff writer Kurt T. Bullard can be reached at kurtbullard@college.harvard.edu.

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NotebooksWomen's Ice Hockey