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Emerging triumphant in last week’s home opener against Dartmouth, Harvard women’s hockey undertook its first road trip of the year this past weekend. The Crimson jumped right into conference play, with a Friday win over ECAC and Ivy opponent Princeton, and a Saturday loss against Quinnipiac, also in the ECAC.
Harvard (2-1, 2-1 ECAC) now has two weeks before its next set of games, and much to think about in that time. The 2-1 defeat to the Bobcats (5-4, 1-1) will come as a disappointment, but the 3-2 victory against the Tigers (1-1-2, 1-1) was classic Harvard hockey—good goaltending, strong power play, and a shoot-first mentality. Most of all, the Crimson will be pleased with the work of its freshman class, which scored all four goals and picked up several assists over the weekend.
“This weekend was definitely a test for us,” said junior forward and tri-captain Kate Hallett. “We have to be able to turn around on Saturday and get the job done again, regardless of the outcome on Friday. [But the freshmen] have brought a lot of energy to the team, and...we want to continue to watch them develop, and develop as an entire team.”
QUINNIPIAC 2, HARVARD 1
The Bobcats played host to the Crimson in its ECAC home opener on Saturday after losing, 1-0, at Dartmouth a day earlier. Despite the loss, Quinnipiac boasted high shot totals on Friday and, aided by Harvard’s lack of discipline, saw a similar result in this matchup.
The first period went by with no score, but gave some indication of what was to come. In those 20 minutes alone, the Bobcats outshot the Crimson by 13-3, and had two power plays. Early on in the second, Harvard found itself in the box twice over, with freshman forward Keely Moy and defender Kate Glover both penalized. That 5-on-3 proved too much for the Crimson’s penalty kill. Quinnipiac freshman forward Taylor House tipped in a shot from sophomore defenseman Kati Tabin to give the Bobcats the lead, 1-0.
“[Penalties are] something we struggled with a little bit last year as well,” Hallett said. “It comes down to playing disciplined defense, moving your feet, and playing smart—no retaliation.”
Harvard saw two power play opportunities at the end of the second period, but was unable to capitalize. Instead, the Bobcats scored again. Sophomore defenseman Kate MacKenzie found herself alone in front of the goal, and roofed the puck over Crimson sophomore goalie Beth Larcom’s shoulder.
Though Harvard was on the penalty kill twice again in the third, the team suddenly found the jump in its step. With just three minutes left in the game, Crimson freshman forward Becca Gilmore shot from between the circles and thwarted Quinnipiac sophomore goalie Abbie Ives’s shutout bid. The goal was Gilmore’s first collegiate tally, and brought Harvard within one. The Crimson pulled its goalie and sent a flurry of shots at the Bobcat net, but the effort was too little, too late.
“If we had played the first two periods like we did the third, we might’ve come out with that win,” Larcom said. “It’s tough to come home with a loss after that, but we learned a lot, and we fought to the very end.”
HARVARD 3, PRINCETON 2
On Friday, the Tigers hosted the Crimson in their Ivy League opener, still looking for their first win of the season. With Princeton’s perfect 10-for-10 record on the penalty kill and Harvard’s high-flying 33% power play, this meeting looked to be a contest of the immovable object and the unstoppable force. The Crimson’s real strength wound up being its dynamic freshman class, which scored all three goals and powered Harvard to victory.
Early on, a Crimson goal seemed like an inevitability, as Harvard peppered Tigers sophomore goaltender Steph Neatby with shots. However, six minutes in, Crimson tri-captain Lexie Laing was called for interference, and the Tigers had its first real chance. Princeton wasted no time; with center Laing in the box, Tiger junior Karlie Lund won an offensive-zone faceoff to sophomore Carly Bullock. Bullock, last season’s ECAC Rookie of the Year, beat Larcom with a hard shot from the left circle.
The Crimson didn’t let the scoreboard stop its offensive push, however. A few minutes after Bullock’s tally, Hallett led forwards senior Nikki Friesen and freshman Lunasa Sano in crashing the net. In the ensuing scrum, Neatby lost track of the puck and Sano was able to cash in the first goal of her college career, tying the game at 1-1.
Up-and-down play continued until Moy forced a turnover right in front of the Tigers net. Moy held onto the puck while Neatby came out to challenge her, then slipped it past her short-side, giving the Crimson its first lead of the night. Each team then had another power play chance to start the second, but the goalies proved to be the best penalty killers on both sides of the ice. Larcom had a strong showing overall, stopping 23 of 25 shots.
“When you’re on the ice and [Larcom] is in net, the entire team feels a really big sense of confidence in the d-zone,” Hallett said. “She stood on her head, and she typically tends to do that.”
Princeton then had an offensive surge, however, and freshman forward Annie MacDonald fed Bullock in the slot from behind Harvard’s net. The Tigers had tied the game again, 2-2. Princeton kept the Crimson on its heels for the rest of the second period, but made the mistake of taking an interference penalty just a few minutes into the third.
Harvard’s careful passing ended in sophomore forward Kat Hughes ripping a shot towards the net. While Neatby made the save there, the rebound landed on the stick of freshman forward Brooke Jovanovich. Jovanovich had a wide-open net, and that’s all she wrote.
“A lot of people contributed, and younger players played well,” Larcom said. “We got the job done, so that put us in a good spot.”
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