No. 4 Women's Hockey Enters New Year at Union, Rensselaer

No. 4 Women's Hockey Enters New Year at Union, Rensselaer

Co-captain Laura Bellamy looks to lead Harvard to an ECAC championship in the second half of the 2012-13 season (photo Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 4 Harvard women's ice hockey team returns from nearly a month-long break to face Union and Rennsselaer Jan. 4-5 in Eastern New York. The Crimson looks to keep an unblemished ECAC record during the trip to Schenectady and Troy, N.Y.

Follow From Home
The games will be available to follow via live stats and live video. To access the respective pages, follow the links at the top. Also, follow @HarvardCrimson on Twitter for updates from the games.

Below are 140 character or less notes on the Harvard women's basketball team, perfect for sharing with your followers on Twitter. Follow @HarvardCrimson and @HarvardWHockey for all the latest news and notes on your favorite Crimson student-athletes and teams or use the hashtag #GoCrimson to see what fans are saying about Crimson athletics.

  • .@HarvardWHockey looks to defend its six-game unbeaten streak (3rd longest in NCAA) and unblemished ECAC record at Union and RPI this weekend
  • Jillian Dempsey of @HarvardWHockey enters the weekend ranked No. 2 in goals per game at 1.27. She trails the No. 1 spot by .05. #GoCrimson
  • This is the first season @HarvardWHockey has been up to No. 4 in the rankings since 2009-10. Full NCAA rankings:

Around the ECAC
Harvard and travel partner Dartmouth, who are traveling to Union and RPI, are the only two ECAC teams on the road for conference games this weekend. Clarkson and St. Lawrence are hosting Beanpot squads Boston College and Northeastern, Princeton travels to Connecticut for two games and Yale (vs. Providence) and Brown (vs. Maine) welcome Hockey East teams for single games Saturday.

About Harvard
The Crimson (9-1-1, 7-0-0 ECAC) has been one of the top teams statistically throughout the beginning of the 2012 portion of the schedule. Harvard is in the top five of the country in a number of categories including scoring offense (No. 4, 4.09), scoring defense (No. 2, 0.82), scoring margin (No. 2, 3.27) and penalty kill (No. 2, .947). The hot start has led the Crimson to a No. 2 ranking in the USCHO PairWise chart, No. 4 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and No. 4 in the USCHO rankings. Jillian Dempsey has been Harvard's offensive leader this season with consistent play in the attacking zone. The November ECAC Hockey Player of the Month has registered at least one point in each of the Crimson's first eleven games to push her career long point streak to 25 games. She leads the team in goals (14), assists (11) and points, while ranking in the top three of the nation in goals per game (No. 2, 1.27) and points per game (No. 3, 2.27). Defensively, the Crimson has two of the best goaltenders in the nation to choose from. Senior co-captain Laura Bellamy leads the NCAA in goals-against average (0.67) and is second in save percentage (.964), while boasting a 5-1-0 record and freshman Emerance Maschmeyer is second in the country with a .900 winning percentage (4-0-1).

Last Time Out
Miye D'Oench contributed a second-period goal and Jillian Dempsey netted the game-tying score in the third to push the No. 4/5 Harvard women's ice hockey team to a 2-2 tie at New Hampshire Saturday afternoon. Harvard outshot the Wildcats, 22-18, in the game that was televised live on Fox College Sports Atlantic and the Live Well Network. It was the Crimson's first tie of 2012-13 and snapped a five-game winning streak.

Related Link: No. 4/5 Harvard Women's Hockey Comes Back to Tie New Hampshire, 2-2

About Union
Union (5-9-3, 0-5-3 ECAC) has already surpassed its win total from last season with five victories during the 2012 portion of the campaign. In fact, the Ducthwomen have won five games in a season for the first time since 2009-10, when the squad went 5-28-1. Union has won its last two games, each against Maine and went 2-2-1 in the month of December. Sophomore Christine Valente leads the team with 10 points on five goals and five assists, while freshman Courtney Turner and Stefanie Thomson have also contributed five helpers. In goal, sophomore Shenae Lundberg has seen the majority of minutes and boasts a 4-6-3 record while stopping .917 percent of shots and allowing 2.49 goals per contest.

Series History - Union
The Crimson is unbeaten in the all-time series against Union with an 18-0-0 record. Last season, Harvard edged the Dutchwomen, 1-0, by one goal for just the second time in series history. Lyndsey Fry contributed the lone tally for Harvard and Laura Bellamy made 24 saves. In the 18 previous meetings, Harvard has won by four or more goals 15 times, including three double-digit wins and 15 shutouts. 

About Rensselaer
The Engineers (5-11-2, 3-5-0 ECAC) enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak after going winless in the previous seven games (0-6-1). RPI beat Princeton (4-3), Brown (3-0) and Yale (4-3) to take its first three ECAC wins and posted an undefeated 3-0-0 record in December. Freshman Alexa Gruschow has emerged as Rensselaer's leading scorer with nine goals, including four on power players, and seven assists for 16 points. Junior Jordan Smelker, who was at the U.S. Women's National Team Winter Camp this past week, is second on the team with seven goals and has also added five assists. Sophomore Kelly O'Brien is 4-10-1 this season in goal, while classmate Brianna Piper has a 1-1-1 mark. O'Brien starts the weekend with a 2.69 goals-against average and .890 save percentage.  

Series History - RPI
Harvard is on a three-game winning streak over RPI to lead to an 8-4-1 advantage in the all-time series. Rensselaer had pulled within one in the series after reeling off four straight wins from 2009-2010, but the Crimson has turned the advantage back in its favor. Before last year's 5-3 (Jan. 14) and 4-2 (Feb. 10) wins for Harvard, the previous seven matchups had been decided by one goal or less. The Crimson trailed 3-0 in the first meeting with Rensselaer last year, but exploded for five goals, including a hat trick from Gina McDonald to top the RPI.

Top Two
Harvard senior Laura Bellamy and freshman Emerance Maschmeyer have been two of the top goaltenders in the nation to start the season. Bellamy ranks No. 1 in goals-against average (0.67) and No. 2 in save percentage (.964), with Maschmeyer ranking third in the nation in GAA (0.98) and tied for fifth in save percentage (.941). Only Noora Räty of Minnesota is also allowing less than one goal while saving more than 94% of shots. 

Related Link: NCAA Statistics

Killin' It
After killing three penalties on New Hampshire's Olympic-sized sheet Dec. 8, Harvard has now denied its opponents in 36 of 38 power-play opportunities it has given up this season. The Crimson kill is ranked No. 2 in land at 94.7%. Minnesota edges the Crimson at 95.4% (83/87).

D is the Key
The Crimson's defense, led by the goaltending tandem of Emerance Maschmeyer and Laura Bellamy, has been one of the toughest to score on this season. Harvard has allowed just 0.82 goals per game to rank second in the nation in scoring defense behind Minnesota's 0.60 mark.

Dempsey's Hot Streak
Jillian Dempsey, who ranks third in the country with 2.27 points per game, second in goals per game (1.27) and tied for ninth in assists per game (1.00), is riding a career-high 25-game point streak. Dempsey extended her point streak Dec. 8 with a third-period goal to tie the score against New Hampshire.

Going Camping
Three Crimson skaters, Jillian Dempsey, Lyndsey Fry and Michell Picard, and head coach Katey Stone traveled to Blaine, Minn., during the final six days of 2012 for the U.S. Women's National Team Winter Camp. Stone, who doubles as Team USA's head coach, ran the camp which featured two days of physical fitness testing, three days of practice and three games. Former Crimson Julie Chu'06-07 and Caitlin Cahow '06-08 were also at the camp along with current ECAC players Jordan Smelker (RPI), Kelly Babstock (Quinnipiac) and Alyssa Gagliardi (Cornell).

Related Link: Dempsey, Fry, Picard to Participate in U.S. Women's National Team Winter Camp

In the Rankings
The Crimson is ranked No. 4 in both the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings. The No. 4 spot is Harvard's highest ranking of the season. The Crimson was also No. 4 in the previous USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine list. Previously, Harvard had not been ranked as high as No. 4 since finishing the 2009-10 season in the fourth slot (March 8, 2010).

Related Link: NCAA Rankings

Top Plays introduced a new video feature to its lineup for the 2012-13 season, "Top Plays of the Month," counting down the greatest moments from your favorite Crimson student-athletes and teams from the previous calendar month. Use the hashtag #CrimsonTop10 to nominate your favorite plays for inclusion.

Winning the Kill
During ECAC play, Harvard has scored more goals than opponents while the Crimson is on the penalty kill. Harvard has scored two short-handed goals and has allowed its opponents to score just one power-play tally.

Back of the Net
The Crimson's offense has been stellar this season, posting 4.09 goals per game in its first eleven contests. Harvard's offensive output is ranked fourth in the NCAA to combine with its 0.67 goals-against average for a 3.27 scoring margin. Only Minnesota  (5.10) and Mercyhurst (3.00) have also topped opponents by more than three goals per game.

The Crimson is undefeated in its last six games for the third longest active streak in the country. Boston College, Harvard's first round opponent in the Beanpot, has not lost in its last 12 games (10-0-2) and Minnesota has won its first 20 games of the season. 

Armstrong for the Win
Kalley Armstong has tallied three goals this season and each has counted as the game-winner. She scored the initial goal in a shutout of Brown Nov. 2 and has followed with Harvard's second goal in 3-1 wins over No. 2 Cornell and No. 9 Northeastern.

Head Coach Katey Stone
Katey Stone, The Landry Family Head Coach for Harvard Women's Ice Hockey, is 13 wins shy of becoming the first Division I women's hockey coach to win 400 games. Stone is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach with a record of 387-165-32 in 19 seasons. Stone, who was named the head coach of the United States women's hockey team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will look to guide the Red, White and Blue to its first gold medal since 1998 next year.

Up Next
Harvard will play five consecutive home games over the course of nine days between Jan. 11-19. The Crimson hosts Princeton (Jan. 11), Quinnipiac (Jan. 12), Connecticut (Jan. 15), RPI (Jan. 18) and Union (Jan. 19) over the span.