Harvard will celebrate the careers of its seven seniors this weekend vs. Clarkson. (Elan Kawesch)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With just one regular season weekend remaining, the red-hot Harvard women's hockey team turns its attention back to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Friday and Saturday as the No. 3/4 Crimson host No. 10/RV St. Lawrence and No. 7/7 Clarkson for crucial ECAC bouts. Harvard (21-4-2, 16-3-1 ECAC) looks to secure the No. 1 overall seed for the conference tournament as it takes on the Saints (18-10-4, 12-5-3 ECAC) and Golden Knights (20-9-3, 14-4-2 ECAC).
Due to several home events and recent inclement weather, fans traveling to Harvard home events this weekend are advised to allow more time to arrive.
Harvard athletics has several home contests slated for Feb. 19-22, and with many events occurring at the same time, fans should allow more time to arrive and park their vehicles in the appropriate Harvard parking areas.
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Harvard celebrates the careers of seven of its seniors this weekend with Senior Day on Saturday. Kalley Armstrong, Hillary Crowe, Sarah Edney, Lyndsey Fry, Marissa Gedman, Josephine Pucci and Samantha Reber will be honored on Saturday following the game versus Clarkson at 4 p.m.
The Crimson septet has led Harvard to an impressive 90-27-10 overall record, going 66-13-7 in ECAC play heading into the weekend. The seven skaters – four forwards and three defensemen – have combined for 581 points, on 202 goals and 379 assists, and boast the 26th and 27th Crimson to reach the 100-point plateau in program history (Fry and Reber, respectively). The class has combined to procure two Ivy League championships, two NCAA berths and the 2015 Beanpot title.
Besting the Best
After downing No. 1 Boston College – which entered the night on a 28-game unbeaten streak – the Crimson proved it can pack a punch against the nation's best. Three days later, Harvard defeated No. 10 Cornell to move to 6-1-2 versus ranked opponents this season, including wins over BC, Boston University, Quinnipiac and the Big Red, and ties with BU and Clarkson. What's more, the Crimson has outscored its ranked foes 30-20 in those nine games, which proves it can compete in close games against the nation's finest.
Full Steam Ahead
After erupting for 34 goals in its last six games – including nine versus BU over a week ago, the highest total in three years – the Crimson moved back up into the top-3 in the nation's scoring with exactly four goals per game. Aside from its struggle at Princeton, Harvard has been electric in its last 21 outings (19-2-0), averaging more than four goals per game (4.10), while reaching the six-goal plateau six times.
Blue Line Bombers
Harvard's defense is stout, one of the best in the nation, yielding just 1.76 goals per outing. Taking out the lone blip on the radar, the loss at Boston College in December (L, 10-2), Harvard's defense would be fourth in the country with a 1.41 goals/game average defensively.
As far as blocking big-time shots, there might be none better than the Crimson defensemen who get sticks down in crucial situations. Marissa Gedman holds the team lead with 39 blocks, ahead of classmate Sarah Edney (32), while Michelle Picard has added 22. Josephine Pucci, who missed the first 10 games, has averaged nearly two per game and was a huge reason for the defensive success in the victory over Boston College – the senior had nine blocks down the stretch to help keep the Eagles off the board in the final frame of the Beanpot. Pucci has 27 blocks in just 17 games this season.
Offensively, Harvard's defensemen have added their due as well. Edney is 10th in the country in points per game, accumulating 0.73 per outing (4-12—16 in 22 games). Picard is close behind with 12 points (2-11—13), as is Gedman with 11 (3-8—11). In total, the Crimson blue liners have added 15 goals and 53 assists for 68 points to the cause.
This is Home
Harvard returns home this weekend, where its accomplishments should not go unnoticed. The Crimson – one of two clubs in the country to not suffer a loss at home this season (12-0-0) –has really come on of late with the start of February, outscoring its opponents 25-6 over the last four games, an incredible average of 6-1 per contest.
Mapping out the ECAC
Out of nine ECAC weekends entering Friday and Saturday's bouts, Harvard has swept opponents seven times, suffering only one tie (T, 2-2 at Clarkson) and one loss (L, 1-0 at Princeton) during that stretch.
The Crimson holds the top spot with 33 points (16-3-1), ahead of Clarkson and Quinnipiac by three points (30). This means Harvard – which has already clinched home ice for the conference quarterfinals next weekend – needs just one point (must at least tie with Clarkson) this weekend to clinch the No. 1 seed overall entering the tournament.
Inside the ECAC is a hot Ivy League race, though the Crimson has done all it can. Harvard is three points ahead of Princeton entering the final weekend, but the Tigers face both Yale and Brown on the road. If the Tigers come away with anything other than two wins, Harvard will at least clinch a share of its third consecutive Ivy crown.
Scouting St. Lawrence
The Saints (18-10-4, 12-5-3 ECAC) have dazzled and baffled all season. After losing to BC by a narrow 2-1 margin, the Saints drew with the Eagles, 2-2, making it the only other team aside from Harvard to have kept BC at bay all year. After a pair of losses to Minnesota at the turn of the New Year, SLU has come on strong, having gone 9-2-1 in its last 12, but 2-2-1 in its last five – including losses to Clarkson and Princeton. The Saints are just an even 5-5-3 away from home this year.
St. Lawrence has a bevy of talent, with four skaters owning at least 12 goals. Sophomore Brooke Webster leads the squad with 15 goals and 29 points, while senior Kayla Raniwsky (12-16—28), junior Jenna Marks (12-14—26) and freshman Kennedy Marchment (12-13—25) follow suit. Defenseman Amanda Boulier, a fourth-year blue liner, holds the team lead with 17 helpers this season, owning 23 points after adding six goals.
In net, SLU features a senior/freshman tandem in Carmen MacDonald and Brooke Wolejko. MacDonald sees 67-percent of the time, making 22 starts, earning a 13-7-3 record between the pipes. She has turned aside 531 shots (.925) and has allowed 43 goals (1.99 GAA).
The reigning national champions, Clarkson comes into the weekend at 20-9-3 (14-4-2 ECAC) with the hopes of entering the NCAA tournament once again. The Golden Knights fare well on the road this season, having gone 11-3-2 away from Potsdam, as opposed to owning a 9-5-1 record at home and an 0-1 record at neutral sites. Before dropping a narrow 1-0 decision against Quinnipiac last Saturday, Clarkson had rattled off five victories in a row.
Boasting a pair of 30-point earners in sophomore Cayley Mercer (20-18—38) and Junior captain Shannon MacAulay (16-15—31), the Knights are well-versed in scoring goals, tallying 94 on the season. Genevieve Bannon and Olivia Howe have added their part to that, combining for 22 goals between the two as well for 29 and 26 points, respectively.
Freshman Shea Tiley has been a stout replacement for Erica Howe in goal this season. The rookie has compiled a respectable .939 save percentage (643 saves) with an impressive 1.38 GAA, letting in just 42 goals in 31 starts. She has accumulated seven shutouts for Clarkson, the third most in the NCAA for a single goaltender.
With the regular season put to bed, the Crimson will focus on the post season, beginning with the ECAC Quarterfinals from Feb. 27-March 1. It's unknown who the Crimson will host, but it will be between Ivy rivals Yale and Dartmouth for a best-of-three series in Bright-Landry Hockey Center.