This weekend, the Harvard women’s ice hockey team (4-18-5, 4-11-4 ECAC) traveled to New York for its final away games of the 2016-17 season. The front half of the trip saw a milestone achieved, as head coach Katey Stone picked up her 450th career win with the Crimson on Friday against Union College (4-25-1, 1-17-1). However, the team was unable to keep up the momentum and dropped Saturday’s contest against Rensselaer (10-20-2, 7-12-1).
RENSSELAER 4, HARVARD 1
Though Friday’s victory over Union gave some momentum to the road team heading into Saturday, Rensselaer still took down Harvard with a three-goal second period to cruise to a 4-1 victory on RPI’s senior night. The Engineers’ three-goal outburst in the span of 10 minutes also put a huge dent in the Crimson’s playoff hopes, as Rensselaer now stands three points ahead of Harvard for the final playoff spot with two games to play.
“The second period was a bad dream for all of us,” said Stone in a Harvard Athletics interview after the game. “I thought RPI did a good job to weather our pressure and played good defense. We kept running around on our defensive end today, and it hurt us.”
RPI junior Whitney Renn scored twice in the game, and her second goal at 5:03 of the second broke a 1-1 tie. The home team scored again on a power play less than three minutes later, and finally, at 14:51, the Engineers closed the scoring with their third goal of the period to open up a decisive 4-1 lead.
In the final minute of the period, Tse nearly scored one for the Crimson to bring the score to 4-2, but her shot ricocheted off the post.
Rensselaer struck first in the first period, as Renn’s shot sneaked past Larcom, but Harvard responded quickly just 21 seconds later. Freshman forward Kat Hughes picked up the puck at center ice and forwarded it to junior forward Lexie Laing, who got entangled with an RPI player. Freshman forward Val Turgeon gathered the loose puck quickly, however, and broke free down the left side, firing into the top right corner for the tying score.
In the final frame, the Crimson fired off 10 shots to Rensselaer’s 8, but neither team was able to net another score.
“We have to win two hockey games, one at a time, and hope now that we get some help,” Stone said, describing the team’s playoff chances with two games left.
The win gives Rensselaer its first season sweep over Harvard since 2009-10, as the Engineers also defeated the Crimson earlier this season in Cambridge.
HARVARD 2, UNION 0
In the team’s first matchup of the weekend, Harvard outshot Union 38-12 en route to a 2-0 win, giving Stone her 450th win at the helm of the Crimson. Stone currently stands as the winningest coach in the history of women’s Division I hockey, with her next closest competitor 10 wins behind.
After firing off 15 shots in the first period, co-captain Briana Mastel opened Harvard’s scoring less than two minutes into the second period with a shot from the left faceoff circle while falling to her knees. On the play, sophomore forward Kate Hallet took a pass from freshman defender Kyra Colbert and backhanded it across the crease to Mastel, who fired it home for the score. The Crimson, playing on a one-goal lead, went onto outshoot the Dutchwomen 11-1 in the second period.
In the third period, Harvard’s defensive dominance continued, as the team conceded only four more shots to Union. With 11:07 remaining in the third, sophomore defender Kaitlin Tse found junior forward Haley Mullins, whose shot into the top left corner doubled the Crimson’s lead.
Freshman goalie Beth Larcom tallied 12 saves on the day in her first career victory.
Harvard returns to action next weekend at home, playing its final two games of the regular season with matchups against Yale and Brown on February 17 and 18.
—Staff writer Sean Chanicka can be reached at email@example.com.