Resilience has defined the Harvard women’s hockey team this season. After a slow start, in which the Crimson went 6-7-3 in their first 16 games, Harvard bounced back by winning nine of 10 — including five straight wins on the road. So on Tuesday (Feb. 17) night, when the recently ranked No. 9 Crimson saw a 1-0 deficit against the No. 5 New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats rise to 2-0, it was not panic that radiated from Harvard head coach Katey Stone’s bench, but composed resilience to set things straight.
That composure led to two goals in the second period by Crimson forward Sarah Vaillancourt ’09 and defenseman Kathryn Farni ’10 to knot the game at two, and bring new energy into the Crimson attack.
“I think our team is in a really different place. Two months ago if we were down 2-0, I think we probably would have folded,” said Stone. “These kids really believe in each other and their capability of coming back and I give them a lot of credit because it wasn’t easy and UNH is a very good team.”
Despite a slow first period in which Harvard only managed to get five shots off on goal, the Crimson rallied aggressively soon after, rattling off 10 shots in the second period, followed by 17 in the third. But Harvard’s assertiveness wasn’t limited to the shooting barrage. In the second period, the Crimson were sent to the penalty box three times — including two penalties within 43 seconds of each other that led to a 5-on-3 power play. However, the tightfisted Crimson penalty-kill sealed the goal for the one-minute, 17-second timeframe, and Harvard escaped the threat unharmed.
Unfortunately, the aggressive play finally caught up with Harvard in overtime as the Crimson’s fifth and final penalty at the 3:39 mark in OT proved to be too much adversity to overcome. The Crimson eventually sacrificed the game-winner with 39 seconds remaining, to give UNH the 3-2 win.
“I’m obviously very disappointed in the outcome. The game turned on a dime because of a penalty,” said Stone. “We came out very slow and were down 2-0, [but we] fought our way back and started to play our type of hockey.”
With Harvard’s non-conference schedule now complete and two tough ECAC regular season games remaining on the schedule, the second-place Crimson will need to be as resilient as ever, as they face St. Lawrence on Friday (Feb. 20) at 7 p.m. and Clarkson at 4 p.m. on Saturday. St. Lawrence (first in the ECAC) and Clarkson (sixth) handed the Crimson their first two losses of the season back in mid-November. With the Crimson one point behind St. Lawrence in the ECAC standings, the Crimson need to sweep the weekend series to guarantee their fourth regular season conference championship in the past seven years and clinch a No. 1 seed entering the ECAC tournament.