CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's hockey team (11-13-2, 9-9-2 ECAC) celebrated Senior Day with a 5-2 win over Rensselaer (9-17-6, 6-11-3 ECAC) and a guaranteed playoff spot on Saturday afternoon at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Following the victory, the Crimson honored the graduating class of Nikki Friesen, Dani Krzyszczyk, Haley Mullins and Chelsea Ziadie for its contributions and dedication to the Harvard Hockey program.
Though neither team scored in the opening period, there was plenty of action on the ice as the squads combined for 50 attempted shots, 27 on goal. Additionally, both teams saw power-play time in the first period, including almost a minute worth of five-on-three play for Rensselaer. The Engineers cracked the scoreboard early in the second, before Harvard scored four unanswered goals that took it to the middle of the third. Rensselaer would muster enough fight to add another score before Kat Hughes put an exclamation point on the Crimson win, potting an empty netter late in the third to seal the game at 5-2.
Harvard's second line continued to blaze through the competition, racking up 10 points in today's contest after collecting six points yesterday. Becca Gilmore put together her second four-point outing of the season and is now ranked 17th among all Division I players, averaging 1.04 points per game on nine goals and 17 assists for 27 points in 26 games. Sophomore Kat Hughes tallied two goals and an assist and finished with a team-high +4 rating in today's contest, improving her weekend stat line to 3-2-5 (+6), including the game-winning goal in back-to-back outings. Brooke Jovanovich opened scoring for the Crimson today, and went on to add assists on two of her linemates' goals after contributing helpers on two of Harvard's three goals against Union on Friday.
Harvard's defense blocked 15 shots today, led by Ali Peper with four. Peper also tallied an assist on Hughes' first goal of the game. Beth Larcom made 34 saves in net and turned away all 16 of Rensselaer's shots in the first period. At the faceoff dot, Harvard held a 30-21 advantage supported by Haley Mullins who won 11 of 16 draws and also recorded an assist on Emma Buckles' goal midway through the third period.
The Crimson also clinched a spot in the ECAC playoffs this afternoon after narrowly missing out on post season last year. As of Saturday night, Harvard ranks sixth in the conference with 20 league points. Princeton and Yale sit within reach at 19 and 16 points respectively. Up the ladder, Quinnipiac holds a three-point lead over Harvard while Cornell and St. Lawrence are tied for third with 28 points and Clarkson and Colgate are locked for the top spot with 34 points apiece.
- The Engineers marked the scoresheet first, just 52 seconds into the second period on Aimee Raithby's first goal of the season. After Josefine Hansen picked the puck up off a forced turnover in the Rensselaer zone, she sped down the ice to sling a shot directly at Larcom, who failed to get a grip and left the puck loose in the crease behind her where Raithby was able to skate by and tap it in.
- Just 1:06 later, Brooke Jovanovich would open scoring for Harvard. Becca Gilmore initiated the sequence when she skated between the two circles and fired a shot. Kat Hughes caught the rebound to the left of the crease and sent the puck back at the Rensselaer goalie. Lovisa Selander could not secure the puck on back-to-back shots and Brooke Jovanovich found her opportunity, poking the puck through Selander's legs to put Harvard on the board at 1:58 of the second.
- Becca Gilmore would add momentum for the Crimson, taking its first lead late in the second. After Brooke Jovanovich took possession off a botched Rensselaer pass, she spun herself away from the goal to toss the puck to Becca Gilmore heading towards the net. Gilmore also employed some fancy footwork, approaching from the left circle, turning her back to the goalie as she caught the puck and effortlessly spinning full circle to chip in the wide-open score from the right of the crease
- Kat Hughes would make it 3-1 before the end of the second when Becca Gilmore tossed the puck across the slot where Hughes banged home a shot from the bottom of the left circle at 17:59 of the middle period.
- Emma Buckles would net Harvard's fourth unanswered goal at 9:16 of the third period. Kaitlin Tse and Haley Mullins traded the puck heading towards the net before an Engineer stick sent the puck bouncing out of the crease to Buckles at the top of the right circle. With multiple screens at the net, Buckles rifled a shot that slid right past Selander's right skate and into the net.
- Rensselaer rallied to put the score at 4-2 midway through the third. Marisa Raspa sent in a shot from the left faceoff dot that bounced around the net and off Blake Orosz's stick, past Larcom, where Makenna Thomas scrambled to tuck it in the right post at 11:22 of the final frame.
- Kat Hughes would net her second of the game and seal the score at 5-2 with 1:39 remaining on the game clock. With an extra Engineer on the ice and an empty net, Becca Gilmore tripped up the attackers along the right dashers, launching the puck into the air. Brooke Jovanovich was able to catch and settle the puck nearby and send it towards the Rensselaer zone. Kat Hughes took control just past the center line, carried the puck down the ice, and curled around the net to score from right out front.
Next up, the Crimson heads to the consolation final of the 40th annual women's Beanpot on Tuesday against Northeastern at 4:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3. Following the non-conference tilt, Harvard will wrap up the regular season in North Country next weekend at St. Lawrence and Clarkson.