This season the Harvard women’s hockey team (17-9-3; 16-4-2 ECAC) didn’t quite match last year’s 27-1 regular season record, nor did they post a 22-0 record in the ECAC. But what they did do may be even more impressive — starting the season with a disconcerting 6-7-3 record, and ending it by clinching the 2009 ECAC regular season championship.
Although considered the ECAC preseason favorite, with Sarah Vaillancourt, the nation’s best player, returning for her senior season, the Crimson struggled to meet expectations in the early part of the season, winning just six times in their first 16 games. But after a 3-0 loss to Dartmouth for their seventh defeat, the Crimson turned their season around with a seven-game winning streak, finishing with an 11-2 record.
With the weekend sweep over No. 7 St. Lawrence (Feb. 20), 4-0, and Clarkson (Feb. 21), 6-1, the Crimson clinched their second consecutive ECAC championship and their fifth conference championship overall.
After Saturday’s win over Clarkson, Harvard honored head coach Katey Stone, who won her 313th career victory in the Crimson’s 4-0 triumph over Brown on Feb. 7. The win also moved Stone into second place on the all-time Division I women’s hockey win list. Now, with 317 wins, she is in first place.
This weekend (Feb. 27-29), the Crimson will face Cornell in an ECAC quarterfinal, best-of-three matchup at Bright Hockey Center. The Crimson defeated Cornell, 5-1, at Bright on Nov. 22 and 5-2 on Feb. 14 at Cornell. The winner will advance to the tournament semifinals March 7, vying for a shot at the conference tournament championship and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.