No. 10 Women's Hockey Looks to Gain Ground in ECAC against Union, Rensselaer

No. 10 Women's Hockey Looks to Gain Ground in ECAC against Union, Rensselaer

Laura Bellamy has played every minute in goal for the Crimson this season (Gil Talbot).

Complete Game Notes (pdf)

The Particulars

After a three-game road swing, the Crimson return home for the first time in 2012, to take on conference opponents Union and RPI. Harvard enters the weekend as the No. 5 team in the ECAC Hockey standings.

Series History
In 16 all-time matchups, Harvard has never lost to Union, collecting wins in every meeting starting in 2003-04. The Crimson has outscored the Dutchwomen 102-3 in the all-time series and has recorded 13 shutouts.

Last season, the Crimson posted a pair of shutouts against the Dutchwomen just 15 days apart. In its first game back after winter break, five different players scored goals as the Crimson blanked Union on the road, 5-0. Josephine Pucci, Jillian Dempsey, Kaitlin Spurling and Lyndsey Fry all scored even-strength goals and Katharine Chute '11 added a power-play tally in the win. In the rematch at Bright, four different players scored with Kelsey Romatoski, Gina McDonald, Kate Buesser '11 and Dempsey lighting the lamp in a 4-0 win.   

The Harvard-Rensselaer series is barely ten games old with the Crimson holding a slim 6-4-1 series edge over the Engineers. The teams first played during the 2006-07 season and Harvard went 5-0-1 in the first six meetings. Four of the past five meetings have gone to RPI and two of those games were decided in overtime.

The teams played a pair of physical contests in 2010-11 and each team was able to succesfully defend home ice. In Troy, N.Y., Ashley Wheeler '11 started the scoring but RPI goals in the second and third periods proved to be enough in a 2-1 Engineers win.  Harvard returned the favor two weeks later at Bright as Liza Ryabkina '11 and Kalley Armstrong netted second-period goals to claim a 2-1 win for the Crimson. Laura Bellamy made 20 saves and allowed only a power-play goal in the victory.   

Last Time Out
The Crimson fought through a tough road trip last weekend, traveling to Princeton and Quinnipiac for a pair of league games.    

After a first-period goal was disallowed against the Tigers, the Crimson offense stalled, getting shutout for the first time in over a year. Princeton's Sally Butler potted goals in the first and third periods, and Danille DiCesare's power-play goal with 6:34 to play sealed the 3-0 loss, Harvard's third in ECAC action.   

Harvard's resiliency showed the following afternoon in a showdown with league-leading Quinnipiac, as the Crimson fought back from one- and two-goal deficits to force a 3-3 tie. Kaitlin Spurling's tally just 47 seconds into the second period knotted the score at 1-1, but a pair of Bobcat goals in the frame put Harvard in a 3-1 hole heading into the third. Lyndsey Fry brought Harvard to within one 3:41 into the third period and Marissa Gedman's power-play slapshot forced the overtime period. In overtime, Laura Bellamy turned aside six threatening shots to seal the 3-3 final.     

Welcome Back
After starting the 2012 portion of the schedule without freshman defender Sarah Edney, the rookie will be back on the ice Friday against Union. Edney was named to the Canadian U-22 development team, and competed in the 2012 MECO Cup in Germany Jan. 3-8. Edney helped Canada earn a bronze medal at the event, putting together a 3-2 record in five tournament games. Edney finished the tournament with one point, scoring a goal in a 6-0 rout of Switzerland in the first round.

The freshman has had plenty of contact with the Canadian Women's National Team, attending a number of training camps and captaining the U-18 team to a silver mdeal at the 2011 IIHF Women's World Under-18 Championship in Stokholm, Sweden. Edney was one of just two ECAC Hockey defenders named to the team for the MECO Cup.   

Owning The Empire
A number of teams from the state of New York dot the Harvard schedule year in and year out, and so far this season, Harvard has fared well against Empire State squads. The Crimson kicked off the season with three straight wins against St. Lawrence, Clarkson and Colgate, before suffering its lone loss to an N.Y. team in a  5-3 defeat at Cornell. The Crimson bounced back with two more wins over the Saints and Golden Knights, to push its record to 5-1 in games against New York teams. In the five wins, Harvard has outscored its opponent 19-4.  

Sure While Short-Handed
After going 10 games without a short-handed goal to start the season, Harvard has tallied a pair of them in the past five contests. Jillian Dempsey scored Harvard's first of the season in a two-goal night at Providence, and Gina McDonald scored on the penalty kill against Connecticut for her second goal of the evening. Harvard gave up its first short-handed goal of the season last weekend in a 3-3 tie with Quinnipiac.  

A Note About Ties
The 3-3 draw with Quinnipiac in its last game was Harvard's first tie of the season. Dating back to Jan. 2010, six of Harvard's last eight ties have been by a 3-3 score. Three of Harvard's four ties last season were 3-3 games, including a Beanpot first-round game against Northeastern, where Harvard advanced thanks to a shootout victory.

Right Out Of The Break
The Crimson proved it was able to carry the momentum it gained before winter break into the 2012 portion of the schedule. The 8-1 pounding of Connecticut represents the biggest win for Harvard in its first game after winter recess since a 9-0 drubbing of Wayne State Jan. 4, 2003. This year also represents the first time since the 2005-06 season Harvard was able to win its last game before break and first game returning from it.  

Strong in the Second
The second period has been Harvard's best in terms of goal differential this season. 20 of Harvard's 51 team goals have come in the middle stanza, making it the Crimson's most productive period. Harvard has allowed only 10 goals in the first frame, also a team-best mark.

Feast On the East
Hockey East has become one of the strongest conferences in women's college hockey, but the Crimson has been dominant in three games against Hockey East opponents this season. Harvard downed Providence on the road, 5-1, Dec. 8, and followed with a 5-2 pounding of New Hampshire at Bright the following night. The 8-1 thrashing of Connecticut pushes Harvard's record to 3-0 against Hockey East schools this season. The Crimson is slated to face two more Hockey East opponents in the Beanpot in February.        

Ruthlessly Efficient
Rookie defenseman Sarah Edney leads the Crimson in shooting percentage at 23.1%. She has scored three goals this season while taking just 13 shots.  

League's Elite
As a team, Harvard ranks among the top of the league in a number of categories. The Crimson boasts the second-best scoring offense in the league as one of just two teams averaging even or better than three goals per game at 3.40 per contest. Harvard has converted on 23.8 percent of its power-play chances, which also ranks second in the ECAC, and its 15 power-play goals rank tied for fourth in the league. The Crimson ranks fifth in the conference with 51 goals on the season, despite playing just 15 games, tied for the fewest among ECAC schools. Harvard has also allowed just 10 power-play goals this season, the second-lowest number in the ECAC.