No. 9/9 Women's Hockey Preps for Non-Conference Bout With No. 2/2 Minnesota

No. 9/9 Women's Hockey Preps for Non-Conference Bout With No. 2/2 Minnesota

Jillian Dempsey is Harvard's top scorer on the season with eight points on five goals and three assists (Gil Talbot).

Complete Game Notes (pdf)

Highlights: Nov. 23, 2011 vs. Dartmouth

The Particulars

Harvard takes on its first non-conference foe of the season as it welcomes No. 2/2 Minnesota for a two-game series. The Crimson brings a 2-1 home record into the series with the Golden Gophers.      
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Series History
The Crimson and Gophers have met 16 times since the first matchup during the 1997-98 season, a 3-2 Harvard win. Minnesota holds the all-time series edge, 10-5-1, and has captured seven of the last nine meetings.

The last time the Gophers played at Bright, Harvard put on a defensive display, shutting out Minnesota in back-to-back games and claiming a 1-0 victory in the first game of the series. It was the first time that either team had shut the other one out in the history of the series.

The Crimson captured victories in the first three games of the series, following up the inagural meeting with a 3-1 win in 1998-99 and capping the run with an 8-3 pounding the year after. From there, Minnesota took charge, claiming eight of the next nine matchups, with Harvard's lone win coming in 2002-03, a 6-1 victory in the NCAA Semifinals. The two teams met in the NCAA  championship game in 2004 and 2005, but the Gophers skated to 6-2 and 4-3 victories, respectively.

Last season, the Crimson squared off against the Gophers on their home ice and the hosts captured 3-0 and 4-2 wins over Thanksgiving weekend. After being kept scoreless in Game 1, the Crimson rallied for a pair of goals in Game 2. Kate Buesser '11 notched a power-play goal off feeds from classmates Katharine Chute '11 and Leanna Coskren '11 with two minutes left in the second, and struck again with two minutes to go in the third off assists from Alisa Baumgartner (West Vancouver, B.C.) and Coskren.

Last Time Out
Harvard suffered its first home loss of the season as its comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth Wednesday.

For the second straight game, Harvard scored less than a minute into the contest, taking a 1-0 lead 39 seconds in. A Dartmouth penalty put the Crimson on an early power play and the hosts took advantage as Josephine Pucci (Pearl River, N.Y.) fired a shot that was redirected by Lyndsey Fry (Chandler, Ariz.) into the net for an quick edge.

Dartmouth knotted the score at 1-1 midway through the second period and took a 2-1 lead into the second break after notching its second even-strength goal of the stanza. Harvard had over a minute of 5-on-3 play in the third but was unable to find the equalizer as Dartmouth netted a third goal to take a two-score lead. The Crimson rallied for a second goal with under a minute play when Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.) put home a Gina McDonald (New Brighton, Minn.) rebound, but the rally fell short as the Crimson fell, 3-2.      

Killing Streak
Harvard enters the game against the Gophers having killed its last 17 penalties. The streak started in Harvard's 2-1 victory over Clarkson Nov. 18, when the Crimson went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the third period. The following afternoon, Harvard went 8-for-8 on the kill against St. Lawrence, it's best performance on the penalty kill since the 2007-08 season. Wednesday against Dartmouth, the Crimson was flawless on the kill once again, squashing six Big Green chances to stretch the streak to 17.

Everyday Dempsey
Junior Jillian Dempsey has been a consistent force for the Crimson this season. Dempsey missed two games while suiting up for the U.S. Women's National team, but in the five games she has played for Harvard, she has logged at least one point in each. Dempsey has three multi-point games on the season and has notched two points, on a goal and an assist, in each of her last two games.

ECAC Recognition
After helping the Crimson clinch the season series sweep against St. Lawrence and Clarkson last weekend, Laura Bellamy was named ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week for Nov. 21. In Friday's game against the Golden Knights, Bellamy was outstanding, recording her second-highest saves total of the season, stopping 29 shots in a 2-1 victory. The Duluth, Minn., native was equally as solid the following night against the Saints, turning aside 26 shots and helping the Crimson go a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The award marks Bellamy's second league recognition of her career, as she picked up a Rookie of Week nod as a freshman.

Face The Facts
Jillian Dempsey is the point-person when it comes to faceoffs for Harvard. The junior has posted a winning faceoff record in all but one game this season and had her best performance on the dot Wednesday against Dartmouth. Dempsey won 18 of 29 faceoffs against the Big Green.  

National Noise
A number of Harvard players have posted stats that rank highly on the national scene. Jillian Dempsey is tied for 17th with three power-play goals, but is third in the nation with a 0.60 power-play goals per game average. Marissa Gedman is tied for 11th with two game-winning tallies and ranks sixth in scoring among defensemen with 1.00 points per game.

Laura Bellamy's strong play has her ranked among the nations best goalies. The junior is seventh in goals-against average at 1.71 and 11th in save percentage with a .932 mark.

As a team, Harvard boasts the 11th-ranked scoring offense, averaging 3.43 goals per game, while the seventh-ranked defense is allowing just 1.71 goals per contest. The Crimson also has the fifth-ranked power-play unit in the country, scoring on 28% of its chances, and is ranked second in combined special teams.  

Spreading The Wealth
Through seven games this season, 14 of the 15 Harvard skaters that have seen action have scored points. Ten different players have scored goals this season, while assists have been recorded by 12 players. Hilary Hayssen (Orono, Minn.) and Kelsey Romatoski (Woodbury, Minn.) collected their first points of the season off assists in the 6-1 win over St. Lawrence.   

After downing St. Lawrence and Clarkson, two teams that were receiving votes in both major polls, in its season-opening weekend,  the Crimson jumped up to No. 10 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and the polls. The Crimson gained another spot in the rankings after finishing the season sweep of the Saints and Golden Knights.  

Historically Harvard
Harvard has a storied tradition within the women's college hockey ranks. In 33 years of play, the team has compiled 25 winning seasons, including nine with at least 20 wins and  four with 30 or more victories.

Since Harvard captured the 1999 AWCHA National Championship, the team has compiled the fifth-best winning percentage in the country and the highest among Eastern teams during that span. Here are the teams with the top 10 winning percentages beginning with the 1999-2000 season (updated through Nov. 21):

 1.    Minnesota (357-84-31)    .788
 2.    Mercyhurst (314-85-24)    .770
 3.    Wisconsin (340-91-36)    .766
 4.    Minnesota Duluth (318-93-35)    .756
 5.    Harvard (283-93-28)    .735
 6.    New Hampshire (286-113-38)    .704
 7.    Dartmouth (263-114-24)    .688
 8.    St. Lawrence (292-131-39)    .676
 9.    Clarkson (154-104-39)    .582
     Providence (233-159-51)    .582