Harvard is set to make its sixth appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. (Photo: Elan Kawesch)
MINNEAPOLIS – With its eyes set on a national championship, the No. 3-seed Harvard women's hockey team must pass a familiar test on Friday in Ridder Arena, as the Crimson (26-5-3) will square off with crosstown rival and No. 2-seed Boston College (34-2-2). The two rivals, who split the season series, will face off in the second game of the evening at the 2015 Frozen Four, set for 9 p.m. ET.
The First Line
- Harvard is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four, and its first since 2008. The last time the Crimson made it to the semifinals, the Crimson fell to Wisconsin, 4-1.
- Last weekend, the Crimson defeated Quinnipiac in the NCAA Quarterfinals at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Harvard moved to 3-1 all-time at home in the Quarterfinals after its dominating 5-0 victory over the Bobcats, its fourth win over QU this season.
- This will be the third meeting between the heated rivals of Harvard and Boston College in 2014-15. The first outing in November, the Eagles had their way, handing the visiting Crimson an uncharacteristic 10-2 loss. But on Feb. 10 in the Beanpot Championship, Harvard exacted revenge, taking a tightly contested, 3-2 victory on ESPN3 for its first Beanpot title in five years.
Here's the Sitch…
The key this season for Harvard in getting to 26 wins this season has been scoring early and often. The Crimson is 16-1-2 when scoring first and owns the same record when taking a lead into the first intermission. Harvard also is a near-perfect 22-1-0 when scoring at least three goals, and 24-2-2 when holding opponents to two or fewer.
This season versus BC, Harvard gave up the first goal in each outing, but did manage three goals in its 3-2 victory on Feb. 10.
The Telltale Second
The second period has been kind to the Crimson this season (outscoring its opponents 45-18), including twice finding the back of the net five times in separate contests), but it also has been a telling marker for the Harvard-BC series this year. Both games entered the second period in a 1-1 draw, but what happened in the second period made all the difference.
In the first game, the Eagles came out flying, scoring six goals in the second, en route to the 10-2 victory. But in the second contest, Harvard settled in and outscored BC, 2-1, including the eventual game-winner from Miye D'Oench.
Harvard owns the fourth-best scoring offense in the country, netting 3.76 goals per outing in 34 games. That success is thanks in large part to an incredibly deep group of forwards, led by ECAC Second Teamer Mary Parker. Parker owns a team-high 38 points, on 16 goals and 22 assists, including four game winners, a power play goal and a shorthanded tally.
Miye D'Oench has shown lengthy spurts of lightning in the offensive zone, tallying a team-best 19 goals, five of which have come on the power play. Not many defensemen can compete with her quick step and deke through the middle of the ice. Samantha Reber, one of D'Oench's linemates for the past two seasons, has been a sturdy force centering her line. Reber has 25 helpers this year and her 82 career assists places her in a tie for 10th all-time at Harvard. Hillary Crowe has put together a solid season as a senior as well, registering 10 goals and seven assists before suffering a late-season injury.
Lyndsey Fry became the 22nd Crimson ever to reach 100 career points earlier this year, and now owns 108 to her credit. She has been an all-star for Harvard on the top two lines all year long, holding down the fort with 19 points (6-13—18). Linemate and Crimson co-captain Kalley Armstrong also has been a crucial component to Harvard's success. A leader on and off the ice, Armstrong has accounted for 13 goals, sending four in herself, and helping on nine.
Not many Crimson have been more exciting to watch than sophomore Sydney Daniels, however. Daniels has 19 goals, adding seven assists for 26 points. Of her 19 scores, seven have held up as game winners, the second highest margin in the nation. Freshmen Lexie Laing (10-15—25) and Karly Heffernan (9-11—20) have been solid contributors as well, finding time in greater than 30 games apiece, along with fellow classmate Haley Mullins (5-6—11).
Ministers of Defense
Sarah Edney was named the ECAC's Best Defenseman this season, and was deserving of the award. Edney sits in the top-15 as far as goals-per game for defensemen are concerned, tallying 20 points on seven scores and 13 assists. Her recent performance during the ECAC Tournament yielded her Most Outstanding Player accolades as she became the first Harvard d-man to score two goals in a game in nearly three years (last was Kelsey Romatoski in 2012).
She has been more than stout in the defensive zone, registering 39 blocks, but so have her counterparts. Fellow classmate Marissa Gedman leads the team with 46 blocks, and adds 11 points (3-8—11), while Josephine Pucci has 40 blocks in just 23 games; her biggest game came versus No. 1 Boston College, where she compiled nine stops versus the Eagles, a season-best for any Harvard defenseman this year. Michelle Picard has put forth some of the hardest minutes as well, boasting 16 points (4-12—16) and 28 blocks. Her physicality and speed has kept offenses in check all season long, especially when being paired with Edney.
Two sophomores in Abbey Frazer and Briana Mastel have been solid contributors as well for the rotating defense. Frazer is tough to beat along the boards, while Mastel is calm and collected in the middle of the zone. The two have combined for 13 points on four goals and nine assists, while stopping 39 shots together.
The position to tie it all together this season has been the goaltenders. Emerance Maschmeyer, a Third Team All-ECAC honoree, has been lights out, especially of late. After starting her campaign 0-2-2, Maschmeyer has gone 17-2-1 (currently on a five-game win streak through the NCAA Quarterfinals). The Bruderheim, Alberta native owns a top-10 ranking among Division I goaltenders in goals against average (1.43 GAA – No. 7), save percentage (.943 – No. 5) and win percentage (.771 – No. 4).
Maschmeyer hasn't had success alone, however, has goalie partners Brianna Laing and Molly Tissenbaum have stepped up all year long. Laing moved herself into the top-15 all-time at Harvard in total wins (15) with her 8-1-0 record this season. She has played 25-percent of Harvard's games, with a .916 save percentage (164 saves) and a 1.75 GAA (15 goals allowed). Tissenbaum picked up her first career victory this season and has stopped 31-of-34 shots faced in six games played.
Inside the Matchup with Boston College
Friday's showdown features interesting matchups across the board. Harvard and BC each hold top-5 offenses and defenses nationally and some of the best goaltending the NCAA has to offer. One crucial matchup is that of BC's first line and Harvard's top-four rotating defensemen.
The first line of the Eagles, featuring Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa and Kenzie Kent, has taken care of 75 of Boston College's 194 goals this season, nearly 40-percent of the Eagles' production all year. Combined, the trio has 190 points, led by Carpenter – a Patty Kazmaier Top-3 Finalist – and her 81 (37-44—81). They will be tested again by the likes of Sarah Edney, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci and Marissa Gedman, a talented and very experienced group on the blue line.
On the flip side, Harvard boasts the depth of three solid lines, each of which will test BC's defense. The Eagles' Emily Pfalzer (8-34—42) was named Hockey East's Best Defenseman, and has been in a solid starting rotation with the likes of Lexi Bender (6-23—29), Tori Sullivan (11-17—28) and Toni Ann Miano (4-12—16). They will be up against Harvard's potent rotating lines, including its seven skaters compiling at least 20 points, five with at least 10 goals.
The two netminders will be in for a battle once again. In the series, Maschmeyer has given up seven goals, five of which came in the uncharacteristic 10-2 loss, but has made 51 saves. Katie Burt, Hockey East's Best Goaltender, yielded five goals and made 34 stops between the pipes in the two contests.
Should Harvard advance past Boston College, the Crimson would take on the winner of the first Frozen Four matchup, which pits rivals Minnesota and Wisconsin at 6 p.m. ET on Friday.