Sophomore forward Sydney Daniels has begun 2015 with a bang. Or, more precisely, with six of them.
In the first six days of the new year, Daniels has notched six goals for the Harvard women’s ice hockey team. During this stretch, the Crimson has played three games and won all three.
“Over break I got to work a lot with my dad, who has taught me almost everything I know,” Daniels said. “Having amazing, hardworking, and skilled teammates doesn’t hurt [either].”
The symbiotic relationship between Daniels’ scoring and Harvard’s success was on full display last Tuesday, when the Crimson (9-2-2, 7-1-1 ECAC) knocked around Connecticut (4-11-6, 0-5-3 HEA) en route to an 8-2 victory in Cambridge. Daniels scored a goal in each period to finish with the first hat trick of her collegiate career.
Despite Daniels’ dominant play, Harvard’s win resembled as much of a team performance as an individual effort. Ten different players recorded assists, five scored, and the Crimson rolled to its seventh straight victory.
“Each game we focus on what we need to do in order to win,” junior co-captain Michelle Picard said. “Every player [is] doing her part, and it’s been paying off…. Now we need to continue improving as the season continues.”
Midway through the first frame, however, the final result was far from certain.
Although Harvard jumped to an early 2-0 advantage, the hosts could only celebrate for 20 seconds. That’s how long it took Huskies forward Theresa Knutson to answer with a goal of her own, sparking a rare four-minute period in which Connecticut dictated the flow of the game and forced Crimson goalie Brianna Laing to make four of her 10 saves on the day.
“UConn never let down,” Picard said. “We needed to stay sharp to keep the lead [and] use our speed to attack and force them to keep up with us.’
Harvard freshman Lexie Laing, sister to Brianne, deflated any potential comeback. By scoring off an assist from senior defenseman Marissa Gedman and junior forward Mary Parker, Laing gave the Crimson a two-goal lead heading into the second period.
The Huskies never came closer.
For the game, Harvard outshot Connecticut 43-18, including a 20-6 advantage in the first frame. Fifteen different Crimson players fired a shot.
The contest became a rout in the third period, when Harvard racked up three goals in rapid succession. Parker scored before four minutes had elapsed, sophomore defenseman Abbey Frazer tallied her first goal of the season in a power-play opportunity, and Daniels capped the surge 15 seconds later with her third finish of the night.
“We were having a lot of fun creating and working in the offensive zone,” Daniels said. “In the third period, we wanted to show UConn what Harvard hockey is all about, and I think it was a good example.”
This good example also manifested itself in the first period, when the Crimson knocked in two goals in the first nine minutes. Senior forward Hillary Crowe struck first by scoring off an assist from junior forward Miye D’Oench and senior forward Samantha Reber after 3:18 of play. Five minutes later, Daniels nabbed her first goal of the game to give Harvard a 2-0 lead.
Out of the Crimson’s eight scores, only Daniels’s first-period finish was unassisted. Reber, D’Oench, and Geldman each passed out two assists.
The play looked least lopsided during the second frame, when Harvard hit only one more shot than Connecticut. But a one-shot difference proved significant, as the Crimson won the period 2-1 thanks to goals from Daniels and Laing.
Harvard has not lost since November 28, when the team fell to No. 1/1 Boston College. Since then, the team has ripped off seven consecutive victories by an average margin of over three goals.
“Hustle, hard work, relentless forechecking, tenacious backchecking, strong defense, and getting the puck on net and crashing are the goals that Coach Stone instills in us,” Daniels said. “Following her coaching leads us to all the successes we have had thus far…. I don’t expect us [to be] stopping any time soon.”
—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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