There are two dates that matter for the Harvard women’s ice hockey team’s Frozen Four matchup against Boston College this Friday night in Minneapolis.
The first is Nov. 28, 2014. One day after Thanksgiving, the Crimson (26-5-3, 16-4-2 ECAC) has the stuffing knocked out of it. The Eagles (34-2-2, 21-0-1 Hockey East) explode for eight unanswered goals en route to a 10-2 walloping, dropping Harvard to 0-2-2 over the past four contests.
“This game shows us where we can be at the end of the season,” says senior forward Lyndsey Fry in a postgame interview. “We have a lot of time between now and the national championship.”
The second is Feb. 10, 2015. Playing for the Beanpot Championship, the undefeated and then-No.1 BC squad (27-0-1) takes a 2-1 lead, only to watch the Crimson come back with a pair of second-period goals. There are 28 more minutes for Harvard to weather—four more Eagle power plays, 13 more shots on goal—but the Crimson hangs on for the Beanpot title to crown its skaters the new queens of Boston.
“Coming back to win today was huge for us,” says junior forward Miye D’Oench after the game. “Obviously, beating an undefeated team proves to everyone else and ourselves that we can go all the way.”
"To be honest, I think we're just going to approach it like we do every other game. I know there's a lot more at stake, considering it is for a national championship, but we've faced them twice this year. We know what they're about," Harvard co-captain Samantha Reber said.
The games are just water under the Longfellow Bridge, of course, but in the four decades of competition between the area schools, an awful lot of water has passed by. Harvard and Boston College have squared off 53 times, and they will meet again this Friday in Minneapolis with a spot in the national championship game on the line.
“To be honest, I think we’re just going to approach it like we do every other game,” co-captain Samantha Reber said. “I know there’s a lot more at stake, considering it is for a national championship, but we’ve faced them twice this year. We know what they’re about.”
The second-seeded Eagles will take the ice having lost just twice this season—once to the Crimson and once in their conference final to Boston University. Between mid-October and mid-February, BC strung together 24 consecutive wins.
Harvard is riding a streak of its own, having compiled a 11-1-1 record since the beginning of February. In its most recent games against No. 9/9 Cornell and No. 6/6 Quinnipiac, the Crimson exploded for 12 goals total to win the ECAC and punch a ticket to the Frozen Four, respectively.
But offensive outbursts are more characteristic of the Eagles, who boast the most potent attack in Division I this year. BC has racked up six or more goals 18 times, and the team posted an overall mark of 5.11 scores per match, over half a goal higher than the nearest competitor.
The duo of junior forwards Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa has underpinned much of this success. The pair has accumulated the top two highest point totals in Division I women’s hockey this year with 81 and 71, respectively.
“Obviously BC is…a great team,” junior goalie Emerance Maschmeyer said. “They have a lot of offensive force. We need to focus on shutting down their offensive chances.”
Harvard will aim to prevent these chances by relying on Maschmeyer and a veteran line of defensemen that includes two former Olympians in senior Josephine Pucci and junior Michelle Picard. The Crimson concedes an average of 1.53 goals a game, good for fifth in the nation.
While 10 of the nation's top 70 point-getters are Eagles, Harvard has only three such players. Junior forward Mary Parker leads the pack with 38 points, and fellow forwards Miye D’Oench and Reber are not far behind.
In the Crimson’s five losses on the year, however, offensive efficiency has proven to be a fatal flaw, as Harvard has converted only one power play in 14 chances during defeats. The number falls a far cry from the Crimson’s average conversion rate of 24.4 percent.
But does the Crimson feel like an underdog?
“No,” Maschmeyer said with a laugh. “Of course not…. We know obviously that we can beat them, and we have confidence that we can do it again.”
—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at email@example.com.
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