Freshman Becca Gilmore wasted no time in making her mark on the Harvard women’s hockey program this year, notching two assists in her NCAA debut against Dartmouth in late October. Once the points started coming for the Wayland, Mass., resident, they didn’t stop. Gilmore finished the season with 35 points, a team best, alongside a team-high 16 goals and 19 assists.
Gilmore’s season was marked by a series of clutch performances, with the forward grabbing countless important goals and assists over the course of the season. The first year managed 12 multi-point outings this season, the most on the team, with five of these 12 coming in the last seven games of the season. Her three game-winning goals were also a team best, and her 35 points were the most by a Crimson freshman in 13 years.
Gilmore’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as she received recognition at various levels. Her season accolades include making the Second Team All-Ivy squad, as well as Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-Rookie team. Her 15 points in February were enough for second best in the NCAA. Gilmore claimed the Hockey Commissioner’s Association (HCA) National Division I Rookie of the Month for February, as well as the ECAC Rookie of the Month for the same period. Finally, Gilmore picked up two ECAC Rookie of the Week awards, one coming during her productive February.
Hockey has always been central to Gilmore’s life, as her whole family is very involved with the sport. Her mother played at Bowdoin College from 1978-1982, and her older siblings were important in getting Becca interested in the sport.
“I’ve been playing since two years old,” said Gilmore of her hockey background. “My mom played in college, she played her whole life, but it was really when my older brother started playing that I started following in my his footsteps. As I got older, it was always fun having my mom to talk hockey with. She really knows the game well, so I’m very thankful to have her to talk to, and it’s really fun when her and my dad get to watch me play.”
Some standout performances from Gilmore’s season include a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win at Rensselaer in January. The Crimson went down 1-0 early, before Gilmore scored one and created one, stealing the victory in New York. Gilmore led Harvard as it routed Holy Cross 8-3 at home in the first-ever matchup between the two programs, finishing with four points split evenly with two goals and two assists. After falling behind 2-1, Gilmore equalized and found the go-ahead goal for the Crimson, adding two assists before the game’s end.
Despite the fast pace of the college game, and college life in general, Gilmore insists that the adjustment has been straightforward. Her six-year varsity stint at Noble and Greenough and her two International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships from 2015 and 2016 may have helped to ease the transition.
“I was really fortunate I came from Nobles, it really prepared me well.” Gilmore said. “It was a similar platform, and so that was not as bad as a transition as I thought. I look up to a lot of upperclassmen who will be getting their work done on the bus or in the hotel rooms. You can’t pull all-nighters when you play a sport here, so you have to make sure you’re on top of getting ahead.”
Some of Gilmore’s most important contributions to the team came during a single week in February, when the playoff race began to heat up. During this time, the forward managed to rack up 11 points in four games over the course of seven days. Harvard won all four games, with Gilmore playing a vital role in each. These included a 3-2 home win against Union in which Gilmore scored twice and a 5-2 win at home over Rensselaer. In the latter game, Gilmore scored after she beat three defenders and the goalie with a brilliant spin move, before adding a trio of assists for a total of four points on the day.
"You can't pull all-nighters when you play a sport here, so you have to make sure you're on top of getting ahead," freshman Becca Gilmore said.
The Crimson then played out a 4-3 Beanpot Consolation win against Northeastern, in which Gilmore assisted one and scored two, finding the game-winner in the third period. This outstanding week ended with a trip to No. 8/8 St. Lawrence, where Gilmore beat the goalie twice, enough to secure a 2-1 victory. This was Harvard’s first win against ranked opposition in almost two years, the last time coming in the 2016 ECAC playoffs. Gilmore pointed to the Northeastern game as one of the most significant team performances of the year.
“Even though we were hoping to be in the finals, there was a sense of pride on the line.” Gilmore said. “We were behind that game, we got off to a slow start, but it shows our team chemistry. We rallied, we had a lot of pride on the line, and we have a lot of love in this locker room. We came out in the third period really strong, ready to do anything it was going to take, blocking shots, making saves, and putting pucks in the net. That was definitely a memorable game for me and probably for the rest of the team as well.”
With a further three years to rack up points for the Crimson, the future looks bright for Becca Gilmore. If this season’s numbers can serve as a barometer, the sky's the limit for the freshman.
“These next four years I’m committed to becoming the best player I am, but at the end of the four years, I want to have a chance to make the 2022 Olympic roster,” Gilmore concluded. “That’s always been my goal, ever since I started playing. The next four years are going to be vital to that development.”
—Staff writer Eamon J. McLouglin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.