Between Feb. 2012—when senior defenseman Josephine Pucci last scored for the Harvard women’s hockey team—and Wednesday’s game against New Hampshire, the nationally awarded defenseman lived a career in miniature.
Three years ago, there was a career-altering concussion, suffered after a Canadian skater blindsided Pucci during a national competition. Two years ago, there was fallout: symptoms, medical tests, and finally the decision to withdraw from college for the year.
Then last year, there was recovery—so much recovery that Pucci skipped the Crimson’s 2013-2014 season to help Team USA win a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics.
This Wednesday against the Wildcats (4-16-1, 2-9-0 Hockey East), Pucci passed another milestone. With her second-period slap shot, the current senior not only put Harvard (12-2-2, 9-1-1 ECAC) up, 3-0, but also earned the right to celebrate her first collegiate goal in three years.
“It was exciting,” Pucci said. “I have been having a lot of fun getting out there again.”
But she spent little time romanticizing the moment.
“There are areas of my game that I can continue to brush up [on],” Pucci said.
A solid UNH defense and a larger-than-normal sheet of ice tested Harvard’s offensive patience. However, the No. 5/5 Crimson hung tough to score in the last six minutes of each period and claim a 4-1 win—the team’s 10th straight victory.
For the third game in a row, the Harvard defense did not concede a goal until the third period. Four minutes remained in the game by that point, and the Crimson still held a three-goal lead.
“[We shut out UNH by] using the size of the ice to our advantage [and] making hard breakout passes,” Pucci said. “I think the team is strong all around.”
After the hosts scored, senior Hillary Crowe responded with a goal of her own in the waning moments of the game. Senior forward Samantha Reber slipped a pass across the goalmouth to give Crowe a routine finish.
Defense became offense earlier on as well when a deflected pass in the defensive zone turned into a two-on-one opportunity for Harvard on the other end 14 minutes into the second frame.
Junior forward Mary Parker carried the puck herself, shot, and finished her own rebound. With her third goal in four games, Parker put the Crimson up, 2-0.
Harvard’s offense, which has come alive of late, is averaging six goals per game over its last four victories.
“We have talked a lot about driving hard to the net and taking off-angle shots,” Crowe said. “We have a lot of speed on our team, and Coach [Stone] has made a point that we…utilize it.”
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