Abbey Frazer and the Crimson look forward to a crucial ECAC weekend. (Elan Kawesch)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Before it settles in to host the 37th Women's Beanpot next week, the No. 4/4 Harvard women's hockey team is up for a tough road test as the Crimson (14-3-2, 11-2-1 ECAC) heads south to take on No. 5/5 Quinnipiac (20-3-3, 11-1-2 ECAC) and Ivy League rival Princeton (10-10-1, 8-6-0 ECAC) this weekend.
Ivy League Digital Network
After an incredibly successful inaugural year that saw over 1,000 events streamed live, The Ivy League Digital Network has returned for 2014-15, providing fans with unprecedented coverage of the Ivy League.
Multiple subscription options are available to fans including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.
Use the all new Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all three platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.
Just Keep the Engine Running
The Crimson looks to enter a gauntlet stretch of its schedule before the postseason rolls around, with six games over the next 12 days. As it stands now, Harvard has the potential to square off with three ranked opponents over those six contests (No. 5 Quinnipiac, a Beanpot matchup with No. 7 BU and a possible rematch with No. 1 BC in the Beanpot finals), all before having to close the season out at No. 10 Cornell and versus No. 9 St. Lawrence and No. 8 Clarkson before the ECAC playoffs.
Both Emerance Maschmeyer and Brianna Laing each picked up a shutout last week as the Crimson blanked Colgate (4-0) and No. 9/10 Cornell (3-0) in back-to-back contests. For Maschmeyer, it was her first whitewash of the season, while Laing recorded her second in seven starts. The goalie pair has been solid for the Crimson of late as Harvard has gone 12-1-0 over its last 13 games, allowing an average of just 1.15 goals per game, while picking up nearly 21 saves per contest.
Full Steam Ahead
Through its 19 total games, the Crimson lays claim to the third-best offense in the nation at 3.79 goals per game, but Harvard has been electric in its last 13 outings. The Crimson has averaged more than four goals per game (4.15), while reaching the six-goal plateau three times.
Rumbling with the Ranked
Harvard's scuffle with No. 5/5 Quinnipiac on Friday – its second with a top-5 Bobcat team this season – will be the sixth top-10 showdown for the Crimson in 2014-15. Harvard is 3-1-2 versus ranked foes this year, falling to No. 1 Boston College and drawing then-No. 7 Clarkson and then-No. 7 Boston University, all in November before downing No. 4 Quinnipiac on Dec. 6 and No. 9 Cornell on Jan. 24. Prior to defeating the Bobcats in November, 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 19 games. They have combined for a +28 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 second outing versus Dartmouth, Harvard is in a tie for first with its 5-1-0 record in Ivy play, making this weekend's matchup with Princeton (4-1-0) a crucial one yet again.
Cornell (5-2) is tied with Harvard atop the rankings with 10 points, followed by Princeton (4-1) which holds on to second – its only loss is to Harvard on Dec. 5. Yale (2-5) is next, followed by Dartmouth (2-4) and Brown (1-6) in the race for the Title. Including Saturday's showdown, the Crimson has four more Ivy League games on the docket.
Early and Often
The Crimson has suffered just one loss when scoring first this season (10-1-2), 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 14 wins have come when taking more shots (14-2-1).
What's more, Harvard is +19 in scoring during the first period, manhandling opponents 29-10 in the opening frame. The Crimson has taken 209 shots – its most for any one period – and has limited opponents to just 132 – its lowest allowed.
The Daily Special
The Harvard special teams have varied this season, allowing 10 power play goals while scoring 11. The Crimson penalty kill has been nothing short of stellar lately, having fended off 41-of-43 power plays over the last 12 games.
On the season, Harvard is 26.8-percent with the skater advantage – good enough for third in the nation behind Minnesota and Dartmouth – and an improving 85.3-percent on the kill. Combined, Harvard sits as the best special teams unit in the nation at No. 1 overall with a 63.3-percent.
As the fifth-ranked team in the land, Quinnipiac enters the weekend as one of the highest-ranked opponents Harvard will face this year, but the Bobcats have been felled in their last two outings. After starting the year 20-1-3 – with the lone loss coming against Harvard in Cambridge – QU suffered setbacks to Boston University (4-1) and Boston College (2-1) in consecutive games over the week.
While it averages 2.62 goals per game, the Bobcats get things done with its stingy defense and the fruitful goaltending of Chelsea Laden. QU is the only team in the country to allow less than one goal per game (0.96); Laden's goals against average of 0.95 per game is second-best as she sports an NCAA-high 12 shutouts.
But on the other end of the ice, the Bobcats certainly have the ability to score, led by freshman Taylar Cianfarano's 24 points (14-10—24). Three other Bobcats have registered at least 20 points this year as well, starting with seniors Nicole Kosta (6-15—21) and Erica Uden Johansson (9-11—20), along with junior Nicole Connery (8-12—20). Emma Woods and Shiann Darkangelo, both crucial players in QU's success a season ago, are tied with Uden Johansson with nine goals apiece, second on the team.
Owning a 10-10-1 mark through its first 21 contests, including an 8-6 record against ECAC foes and a 4-1 Ivy mark, the Tigers enter the weekend looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. After starting the season off 6-1-1, PU cooled off and suffered a 1-6 record before the end of December, including a 3-0 setback in Cambridge on Dec. 5. In its most recent outing, the Tigers fell to No. 1 BC, 4-2 in Chestnut Hill.
A pair of sophomores in Molly Contini and Kelsey Koelzer have combined for 22 points apiece to lead the Tigers. Contini's 12 goals is a team-high, while Koelzer is knotted with junior Jaimie McDonnell with seven apiece for second on the team. Underclassmen Hilary Lloyd and Kiersten Falk each have 10 assists has they combine to round out the top-five Tiger point-earners.
In the nets, junior Kimberly Newell has seen the lion's share of Princeton's games, earning 18 starts. She has one shutout on the season, allowing 46 goals (2.56) with a respectable .915 save percentage and 498 saves entering the home weekend versus Dartmouth and Harvard.
Harvard finally returns to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center to face both Colgate and Cornell for the first time this year. The Crimson and Raiders will battle at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, while Harvard hosts bitter rival Cornell on Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. for its annual White the Bright game.