A new chapter in the history books opened Friday night as the women’s ice hockey team defeated No. 3 Harvard at Ingalls Rink for the first time in 20 years.
The chapter marked “Crimson Dominance” almost closed last season, but Harvard squeaked out a power-play goal in the final seven seconds to preserve the streak. The Bulldogs (3-3-0, 2-2-0 ECAC), who had been winless against the Crimson since November 18, 1984, never trailed after forward Nicole Symington ’05 slapped home the rebound of a Kelsey Johnson ’07 shot just 3:21 into the game.
In the final eight minutes of play, it looked as though history might repeat itself. Harvard (3-1-1, 3-1-0 ECAC) scored a controversial goal with 7:26 remaining in the game. The puck trickled beneath a splitting Sarah Love ’06 and over the line, seemingly after the referee’s whistle. However, with the lamp lit, it was ruled a legitimate goal, and the momentum shifted in Harvard’s favor as the gap closed to 3-2.
But as the clock ticked down from the 6:30 mark, the Bulldogs managed to kill both a five-on-three and a five-on-four situation to ice the game, kill Harvard’s momentum, and break the streak.
“We had lost to Harvard on a five-on-three in the last seven seconds last year, so I think everyone was so determined not to allow a similar situation that everyone was laying everything out on the line,” Johnson said. “The whole team was elated, especially because it was an entire team effort, which made it so much more gratifying.”
The penalty kill, which was a huge asset for the Bulldogs last season, returned to old form against the Crimson — Yale neutralized seven of eight power plays. With a stellar defensive effort in both man-down and even-strength situations, many of Harvard’s 50 total shots were taken from low-percentage angles. When the Crimson shots were directed on net, they were met with stalwart goal-keeping from Love, who finished with 48 saves.
“During the five-on-three we just wanted to keep Harvard from getting in front of the net and screening me,” Love said. “As long as I can see the shot, I’ll make the save. We executed really well and, although it was tense, everyone believed that we could hold them off — We’re very good at keeping teams to the outside, icing the puck and applying pressure in their offensive zone.”
Although the Bulldogs’ offensive pressure amounted to only 31 shots, the Elis were able to capitalize on the opportunities that bounced their way, scoring off rebounds and defensive miscues.
Against No. 8 Brown (5-2-0, 3-1-0 ECAC), the Elis faltered, losing by a score of 4-1. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Bulldogs attempted to dig themselves out of a hole for the remaining 40 minutes.
“We were trying to make a comeback for the rest of the game, which is kind of a bad way to play,” forward Jenna Spring ’07 said.
The Elis opened well against the Crimson, scoring in each period and shutting down penalty plays; versus the Bears, it was a different story. In the second period, forward Sheila Zingler ’07 slapped home a rebound from a shot by Symington, but a Brown penalty-play goal with just over one minute remaining in the period made the score 3-1. Scoring a goal just 56 seconds into the third, the Bears put the game out of reach, but ended up outshooting the Elis only 29-25.
For the third weekend in a row, the Bulldogs dropped their second game of the weekend, but Love insisted that fatigue was not to blame.
“We made mistakes in both games this weekend; the only difference was that Brown was able to capitalize on our mistakes,” Love said. “Brown is a good team; it wasn’t fatigue that cost us, it just that we weren’t able to put the puck in the net.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs get the chance to reverse their latest hex — the 1-1 weekend — in a two-game series against Union. The loss against Brown provided the Elis with an important lesson, said Johnson.
“It is a result of us thinking that somehow the victory on Friday carries over onto Saturday,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, we can stop this trend and carry that on to the future weekends where we [play] two teams.”
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