Gina McDonald's hat trick sparked a 5-3 comeback victory for Harvard against RPI (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Facing a 3-0 deficit late in the second period, sophomore Gina McDonald rallied the troops with Harvard's first hat trick of the season, as the No. 10 Harvard women's hockey team netted five unanswered goals to post a dramatic, 5-3, comeback win over Rensselaer (5-15-4, 2-8-2) Saturday at Bright Hockey Center. McDonald scored a power-play, an empty-net and an even-strength goal, and also tallied the game-winner in the third period.
Thanks to a strong effort late in the second period, the Crimson (11-5-1, 8-3-1) started the final frame down by just one at 3-2. After a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity for the Crimson passed without a goal, Harvard found the equalizer 7:35 into the stanza. Sarah Edney fired a shot on the RPI goal and after the initial save was made, Kalley Armstrong swooped in to deposit the rebound and tie the game.
McDonald netted her second of the night less than two minutes later, converting passes from Marissa Gedman and Hillary Crowe. The Crimson held tight through the remainder of the period, and just four seconds after RPI was forced to pull its goalie for an extra attacker, McDonald whipped a puck through the RPI defense to complete her hat trick and cap the 5-3 final.
The first half of the second period saw very little action, as the Crimson allowed just two shots on goal during that time frame. At the 12:05 mark, however, RPI struck for the second time as Sierra Vadner beat Laura Bellamy with a shot into the upper netting. Just over a minute later, RPI extended its lead to 3-0 as a Jill Vandegrift shot found its way past Bellamy at the 13:07 mark.
Harvard answered swiftly with two goals of its own before the second period horn sounded. Jillian Dempsey started the scoring on the night, receiving a pass from Hillary Crowe and depositing her 11th goal of the season. The power-play shined just over a minute later as McDonald collected her first goal, pushing home the puck out of a scrum in front of the RPI goal. The Crimson finished the period with a 15-5 advantage in shots.
The first period saw each team commit a pair of penalties but it was the Engineers who cashed in on one of their opportunities. Laura Guillemette corralled passes from Taylor Horton and Kathryn Schilter to get the visitors on the board with a power-play tally.
Bellamy collected her 11th win of the season with a 15-save performance while the Crimson ended with a 33-18 edge in total shots.
Harvard continues its homestand next weekend with a Friday game against No. 3 Cornell at 7 p.m.