Hillary Crowe and the women's hockey team have high expectations for the upcoming 2013-14 season. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 7/7 Harvard women's hockey team is set to open its 36th season this weekend as No. 9/8 Quinnipiac and Princeton will visit pay visits to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Crimson has yet to play a contest this season, making it one of just three ECAC squads, along with Brown and Princeton, to begin the 2013-14 season this weekend.
Ivy League Digital Network
All of Harvard's home games will be streamed in HD quality featuring a live scoreboard, new graphics package and play-by-play commentary through the Ivy League Digital Network. Subscribers to the network can watch contests both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all home Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.
Harvard in Season Openers
The Crimson is 22-11-2 in season openers, including a 15-6-1 mark when its first game of the year is in Bright-Landry Hockey Center. This year's contests will be the fourth time in Harvard's history that its season begins against Quinnipiac, as the Crimson is 3-0 when opening with the Bobcats. Harvard opened last season with a 2-0 win against Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn.
The Quinnipiac Query
With six contests under its belt, No. 9 Quinnipiac comes to Cambridge 5-0-1 this season, 3-0-1 on the road. The Bobcats tied and beat St. Cloud St., before taking two each from Penn St. (5-1 and 4-0) and Maine (4-0 and 5-2).
Senior forward Kelly Babstock is a force for the Bobcats, racking up 10 points (4-6-10) in the first few games. First-year forward Emma Woods also adds to Quinnipiac's attack, as her four goals and five assists have tallied her nine points this season. Both Babstock and Woods have earned multiple ECAC weekly awards this season for the Bobcats. Chelsea Laden has played all but one period for QU, making 112 stops while allowing just three goals for a league-best 0.52 goals allowed percentage and .974 save percentage.
Harvard leads the all-time series between the two programs with a 13-2-1 record against Quinnipiac. The Crimson has taken the last three meetings, including two shutout wins over the Bobcats last season (2-0 and 4-0). Harvard has outscored Quinnipiac in the series, 55-22 since the two sides first met in 2005.
Pairing Up With Princeton
Like the Crimson, the Tigers have not yet begun their season. Also like Harvard, Princeton squared off with McGill in an exhibition contest, but the Martlets used four third period goals to down the Tigers, 4-1, on Oct. 6.
Princeton was voted to finish in the middle of the pack, seventh in the ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll that came out in September. The Tigers return 15 of 19 letterwinners from a season ago, making for an experienced squad in a deep league. But over 40-percent of the offense must be replaced with the departure of Corey Stearns, Kelly Cooke and Alex Kinney.
Sally Butler returns for Princeton as its leading scorer, having accumulated 15 points in 2012-13. Now a senior, Butler lead the Tigers with 26 points in her sophomore campaign. Though the offense must go through changes, Princeton's defense and goaltending is firm, led by sophomore Kimberly Newell in net. Newell finished her freshman season with a .915 save percentage and a 2.90 goals against average.
Harvard and Princeton have played every year since 1979 as Ivy League counterparts. The Crimson, which has taken the last five contests, holds a 41-30-4 advantage leading up to the two sides' 76th meeting. Last season, Harvard beat Princeton, 9-1 and 3-0, in their two games.
Rank 'Em: Lucky Sevens
Harvard is the only team in the nation to earn a top-10 ranking without seeing the ice, holding down the No. 7 spot in both the USCHO.com and USAToday/USA Hockey Magazine polls before the Crimson's opening weekend. The Crimson is one of four ECAC teams ranked in the latest USCHO.com poll, joining No. 3 Cornell, No. 5 Clarkson and No. 9 Quinnipiac.
Harvard reached historic heights last season, seeing the No. 2 spot for nearly three weeks. The last time the Crimson was that high in the polls was when it claimed the No. 1 ranking on March 10, 2008.
Guess Who's Back?
A fair amount of change has transpired for Harvard during the offseason, but the faces that return will be key in the search for continued success. Though there are missing pieces, the Crimson is kept on a seamless track as Maura Crowell has assumed the Interim Head Coach position. With a vacant assistant coach spot open, former Harvard standout Laura Bellamy joins Crowell and second-year assistant coach Hayley Moore on the bench for some welcomed familiarity.
On the ice, the Crimson returns 11 skaters, most notably junior captain Marissa Gedman, who ventures back from a season-ending injury suffered prior to last season. Gedman will lead the charge for the 11 upperclassmen and seven newcomers in the Olympic year, which taxes rosters throughout the country, but few more so than Harvard's. Even after seeing three of its top five point earners depart, expectations remain high for the Crimson as forwards Samantha Reber (5-19-24) and Mary Parker (12-12-24), along with blueliner Sarah Edney (3-18-21), all return to the ice.
Junior Hillary Crowe and sophomore Miye D'Oench also will play important rolls on the Crimson attack as returners. Crowe was instrumental last season with her 19 points (8-11-19), as was D'Oench, who tallied 13 points (10-3-13) in her collegiate debut for Harvard.
Emerance Maschmeyer looks to take the lion's share of the minutes in the net for Harvard after starting 20 games her freshman season. Maschmeyer earned an impressive 12-6-2 record, turning away 400 shots to just 28 goals allowed, earning her ECAC All-Rookie team and Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors.
Get to Know the New
With seven newcomers, Harvard's freshman class is the largest on the roster (compared to just two seniors, four juniors and five sophomores). While all newcomers will certainly shoulder their share of responsibilities, the Crimson will look to forward Sydney Daniels and defender Briana Mastel for immediate contributions at their respective positions. Netminder Brianna Laing also will compete for time with Maschmeyer as well, creating an intimidating platoon of puck stoppers. A trio of defenders in Natasha Rachlin, Robyn White and Abigail Frazer, along with forward Hannah Zarzecki, rounds out the talented group of new Crimson.
Harvard is set to enter its 36th season as a varsity program, and a successful one at that. After making it to the ECAC Championship and the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13, the Crimson has racked up a 585-322-51 (.637) record, an average of 16 wins per year. The last time Harvard suffered more losses than wins was 16 years ago, coincidentally one season before the Crimson claimed the national title in 1999, a testament to the program Stone and her coaches have built over the years.
Aside from its national championship, Harvard has claimed a spot in nine NCAA Tournaments and five Frozen Fours, while bringing home six ECAC Tournament championships, 11 Ivy League titles and 13 Beanpots. Twenty-two Crimson skaters have earned All-America status since 1998-99.
The Crimson outlasted McGill on Oct. 19, 5-2, in an exhibition contest against the Martlets. Both Reber and Edney collected two points – both with a goal and an assist – helping the Harvard to its eighth consecutive win over the team from Montreal. Emerance Maschmeyer got the starting nod, posting 20 saves in two scoreless periods in net.
Crimson, White and Blue
In total, four Crimson – Katey Stone, Lyndsey Fry, Michelle Picard and Josephine Pucci – will represent the United States this February in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Harvard graduates Julie Chu and Kate Buesser give Harvard five current or former players on Team USA, joining Wisconsin and Minnesota for the most on the national squad.
All-ECAC, All the Time
Junior blue liner Sarah Edney heads up the 2013-14 accolades for Harvard, earning a spot on the Preseason All-ECAC squad as a defender. With 99 points, the Crimson was chosen by the league's coaches to finish third.
2013-14 Coaches' Preseason Poll:
1. Clarkson (7) 117
2. Cornell (5) 111
3. Harvard 99
4. Quinnipiac 94
5. St. Lawrence 78
6. Dartmouth 75
7. Princeton 56
8. Rensselaer 46
9. Colgate 43
10. Yale 37
11. Brown 26
12. Union 11
2013-14 Coaches' Preseason All-League Team
Erica Howe Clarkson Goaltender
Sarah Edney Harvard Defense
Erin Ambrose Clarkson Defense
Kelly Babstock Quinnipiac Forward
Jamie Lee Rattray Clarkson Forward
Jillian Saulnier Cornell Forward
Under the Watchful Eyes of the Green Monster
For the first time in program history, the Harvard women's hockey team will play at Fenway Park, Fenway Sports Management (FSM) announced Sept. 26. The Crimson will host Northeastern Jan. 2 at 3:30 p.m. as part of Citi Frozen Fenway 2014.