The Harvard women's hockey team returns to Bright-Landry Hockey Center for a pair of ECAC match-ups this weekend. (Elan Kawesch)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Following a four-game road swing – and having played six of seven away from home – the No. 5/5 Harvard women's hockey team is set to return to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center this weekend for a pair of ECAC contests. On Friday, the Crimson (12-3-2, 9-2-1 ECAC) takes on Colgate (5-18-0, 2-9-0 ECAC) before No. 9/10 Cornell pays a visit on Saturday for Harvard's annual White the Bright game.
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The Harvard women's hockey team will host its annual "White the Bright" game Jan. 24 when Ivy League and ECAC rival Cornell visits the Bright-Landry Hockey Center with the goal of breaking the program's attendance record for the showdown. The Crimson's record since women's hockey became an NCAA sport is 1,921 fans, set Jan. 11, 2004 in a matchup with Dartmouth.
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Home Ice Is Nice
The Crimson has skated in 17 games this season, only six of which have been in the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Fortunately enough, Harvard is 6-0-0 in those contests, including a win over then-No. 4 Quinnipiac, and victories over Ivy League foes Dartmouth and Princeton.
In its six contests at home, Harvard has outscored its opponents, 26-7, an average of 4-1 each game.
Harvard's scuffle with No. 9/10 Cornell on Saturday will be the fifth top-10 showdown of the season for the Crimson. Harvard is 1-1-2 versus ranked foes this season, falling to No. 1 Boston College and drawing then-No. 7 Clarkson and then-No. 7 Boston University, all in November before downing Quinnipiac on Dec. 6. Prior to defeating the Bobcats, the last time Harvard defeated a top-5 team was last season when the Crimson went into Lynah Rink and toppled No. 3 Cornell, 3-1.
Youth of the Nation
Harvard has received invaluable production from its freshmen this season. Thanks to Lexie Laing's three game winners, the Crimson rookies own five of Harvard's 12 winning goals when adding in tallies from Karly Heffernan and Haley Mullins. The trio of Laing, Heffernan and Mullins – all on separate lines – also has combined for 31 points on 15 goals and 16 assists through 17 games. They have combined for a +25 on ice rating as well.
Climbing the Ivy
Two-time defending Ivy League champions, the Crimson is off to another hot start among its Ancient Eight peers. Despite dropping its last outing at Dartmouth, Harvard is in a three-way tie for first with its 4-1-0 in Ivy play, making this weekend's matchup with Cornell (4-1-0) an important one.
Princeton (4-1) also is tied for first – its only loss is to Harvard on Dec. 5 – while Dartmouth (2-3) is next, followed by Yale (1-4) and Brown (0-5) in the race for the Title. Including Saturday's showdown, the Crimson has five more Ivy League games on the docket.
Early and Often
The Crimson has suffered just one loss when scoring first this season (8-1-2), but has shown it can come back after falling behind early by securing four wins after opponents found the back of the net first. Harvard also relies on outshooting its foes, as all 12 wins have come when taking more shots (12-2-1).
What's more, Harvard is +17 in scoring during the first period, manhandling opponents 27-10 in the opening frame. The Crimson has taken 182 shots – its most for any one period – and has limited opponents to just 117 – its lowest allowed.
The Daily Special
The Harvard special teams have varied this season, allowing 10 power play goals while scoring nine. But versus Dartmouth and Princeton in December, the Crimson was perfect in each outing. The Harvard penalty kill has been nothing short of stellar, halting 29-of-31 opponents' power plays over the last seven contests.
On the season, Harvard is 26.5-percent with the skater advantage – good enough for third in the nation behind Minnesota and Dartmouth – and an improving 83.9-percent on the kill. Combined, Harvard sits as the best special teams unit in the nation at No. 1 overall with a 63.5-percent.
Colgate enters the weekend stretch having just split with Brown (W, 3-0) and Yale (L, 5-1) to move to 2-9 in ECAC action (5-18-0 overall). The Raiders have struggled of late, going 2-10 over its last 12, but that includes losses to ranked opponents in Mercyhurst, Clarkson and Cornell.
'Gate is led on the attack by a quartet of freshmen with at least 10 points apiece. Megan Sullivan is tops on the squad with 13 points with a team-best seven goals. Breanne Wilson-Bennett is tied for second with five goals, putting forth 11 points, just ahead of Annika Zalewski (3-7—10) and Shelby Perry (3-7—10). Of Sullivan's seven tallies, five of them have come on a Colgate power play.
In net, the tandem of Ashlynne Rando and Brittney Brooks – a pair of upperclassmen – has carried the workload. Rando has started 17 games in net, allowing 42 goals (2.61) and turning away 421 shots (.909), while Brooks has 19 goals allowed (2.86) and 154 saves (.890) in eight games played.
As one of Harvard's most competitive rivals over the years, Cornell enters the weekend looking to upset the Crimson. The Big Red visits Bright-Landry with a 9-6-3 record (7-2-2 ECAC), but owns the nation's third-longest unbeaten streak currently, having gone 6-0-3 over its last nine outings. The streak includes ties with Mercyhurst, Clarkson and St. Lawrence at home, along with wins against the latter two teams on the road and Boston University at home.
Offensively speaking, the Big Red's firepower comes from a trio of All-Conference caliber senior forwards in Brianne Jenner, Emily Fulton and Jill Saulnier. The three skaters have combined for 71 of Cornell's 158 points – nearly 45-percent alone. Jenner and Fulton are tied for the team lead with 10 goals apiece, while Jenner owns a team-best 18 assists.
Between the pipes stands a fierce and youthful duo of sophomore Paula Voorheis and freshman Amelia Boughn. Voorheis has seen the bulk of the work with 16 starts, picking up a 7-5-3 record thanks to 44 goals allowed (2.82) and 438 saves (.909). In two games started, Boughn has allowed five goals (1.93) and steered away 48 shots (.906) to earn a 2-1 record.
Harvard hits the road for its second-to-last weekend road trip as the Crimson travels to No. 4/4 Quinnipiac and Princeton for a crucial conference weekend Jan. 30-31.