Harvard and Yale will duke it out on Sunday to earn a spot in the ECAC Semifinals. (Elan Kawesch)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Miye D'Oench found the back of the net twice for the No. 5/5 Harvard women's hockey team in an elimination game, including the game-winner in the second overtime period, as the Crimson (22-5-4, 16-3-3 ECAC) edged archrival Yale (9-15-7, 6-9-7ECAC), 3-2. Harvard stays alive with the win, and will faceoff with Yale Sunday at 4 p.m.
D'Oench's two scores vaulted the Crimson to victory, while freshman Brianna Laing's play in net allowed Harvard the opportunity to remain in the title hunt. Laing finished with 32 saves over the four-plus periods, while her counterpart, Jaimie Leonoff was tested by the Crimson for the second night in a row, forced to see more than 50 shots.
After Harvard applied the early pressure in the first game of the series, Yale took its turn in the driver's seat in game two, scoring the game's first goal just over four minutes into the opening frame. Phoebe Staenz slapped a deep shot from the point, just past Laing's shoulder, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period, D'Oench came inches away from knotting everything at 1-1, but Aurora Kennedy was whistled for handling the puck with her hands in the crease to give the Crimson sophomore a free penalty shot. Leonoff, however, was equal to the task and kept D'Oench and the Crimson off the board with a stonewall block. With the seconds ticking down, Laing made one more save before the horn as Yale was pressing on a brief 4-on-4 opportunity.
Entering the second with a power play, Harvard nearly converted again, but Leonoff stood tall and prevented Marissa Gedman and Gina McDonald from getting the puck across the goal line. Each team would go on one more power play apiece in the frame, but both defenses and goaltenders were up to the challenge and kept each other from finding the back of the net in the second.
With more of the same transpiring in the third, it looked as though Yale was going to prevent Harvard from scoring in the contest, but D'Oench and her linemates had other plans. After Samantha Reber won the faceoff in the offensive zone, she kicked the puck out to Hillary Crowe on the wing. Crowe then found D'Oench near the slot, before she fired a beautiful, quick turnaround slapshot from the north side of the faceoff circle.
D'Oench's equalizer seemed to give Harvard momentum, but Yale managed to stave off any Crimson attempt. Just five minutes later, Aurora gave the Bulldogs more life. She weaved through the Crimson defenders and eventually found Staenz, who tapped in a shot from the left side of the net to regain the lead for the visitors.
After a fair amount of back-and-forth, Harvard struck again in a crucial spot with just four minutes and change remaining. The Crimson tied things up thanks to a brillaing play in front of the net by Jessica Harvey. After Sarah Edney ripped a missle from the point that caromed off the boards, Harvey battled for the loose puck in the crease, sending it back into the zone. Dylanne Crugnale made a move to get open on the right side of the net, where she efficiently one-timed Harvey's pass into the back of the net to even the ledger.
Once again, the two teams battled tooth-and-nail in the first overtime period, with neither side firing more than two shots at a time on target in the frame. The track-meet of a contest continued on into a second overtime – for the second consecutive night – but just four minutes in, the top line calmly ended things.
After D'Oench collected the puck in the neutral zone, she saucered it along to Reber across the blue line. With eyes in the back of her head, Reber, touch-passed it between a Yale defenseman's legs to Crowe, who lasered a shot at Leonoff. After some contact was made, the puck bounced off D'Oench and tickled the twine for the game-winning score, giving Harvard a hard-fought 3-2 game and new life in the series.
Harvard and Yale will do battle once more at Bright-Landry, set for a 4 p.m. game on Sunday to decide who moves onto the semifinals, hosted by No. 1-seed Clarkson in Potsdam, N.Y.