Laura Bellamy made 23 saves in a 3-1 exhibition win over McGill Saturday (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a season-opening exhibition against McGill, the Harvard women's hockey team displayed a poised penalty kill and posted a workmanlike, 3-1, victory over the Martlets Saturday afternoon at Bright Hockey Center.
An aggressive Crimson team took the ice to start the first period, and the Harvard penalty kill was put to the test throughout the opening frame. On two separate occasions, the Martlets found themselves on a 5-on-3, but a stingy Crimson defense, backed by goalie Laura Bellamy, kept the score at 0-0. Harvard earned its first power-play with 4:37 left in the first, but was unable to take advantage as the buzzer sounded with score still 0-0.
More penalties plagued the hosts in the second and McGill finally broke through on a skater-up opportunity. Leslie Oles one-timed a Melodia Daoust pass right on the doorstep to put McGill up 1-0 at the 10:47 mark. Harvard responded without the help of an extra skater six minutes later and Gina McDonald threaded a pass across the front of the McGill goal to Jillian Dempsey, who lifted a shot over McGill goalie Charline Labonte's shoulder to knot the score at 1-1 after two periods.
The penalties persisted for Harvard in the third as well, but despite being down skaters often through the first half of the third, it was Harvard who netted the third goal of the game. An interference penalty put the Crimson down a player, but Kalley Armstrong picked off a McGill pass near her own blueline, hustled down the length of the ice and beat Labonte with a shot from close range to give Harvard a 2-1 lead on a short-handed effort. Gina McDonald capped the scoring in the game with an empty-net tally with 20 seconds to play, sealing the 3-1 final.
Bellamy was stellar in net, posting 23 saves and helping Harvard kill 11 of 12 penalties. McDonald finished the game with two points, notching a goal and an assist. Labonte notched 28 saves in the loss for McGill.
Harvard opens its regular-season schedule on the road next weekend as it takes on St. Lawrence Friday in a 7 p.m. conference showdown.