BOSTON, Mass. — Harvard junior forward Carrie Schroyer says she’s always happy and excited to play Brown. She scored her first career goal, a 3-2 game-winner, against Brown her freshman year. Brown is a team Schroyer has played well against her entire career, and she’s certainly not alone on the Harvard roster in that regard.
The No. 6 Crimson (10-6-1, 9-1-0 ECACHL) continued its dominance of Brown (10-6-1, 7-5) Tuesday night with a 4-0 win at the Bright Hockey Center. Nicole Corriero led Harvard with two goals and an assist, Julie Chu had three assists and Schroyer set a career high with her third goal this season.
This victory and November’s 7-3 win are the only games in which the Bears have given up more than three goals this season. Harvard improved to 14-1-1 against Brown since the Bears delivered the only defeat of the Crimson’s 1999 national championship season. Brown dropped to 1-2-1 in the New Year, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with a visit to No. 1 Minnesota ahead this weekend.
The win was the Crimson’s third straight since ending 2004 with losses in five of six games. Harvard coach Katey Stone called her team’s hockey so far this year inspired, hard-working, efficient and disciplined. She and the players attribute the improvement to the team’s intensified holiday break practice schedule.
“A lot of those things that happened in the first half were tired mistakes,” Stone said. “We’re not making those right now, and that’s very pleasing. That’s conditioning. You win these games sometimes because of conditioning.”
Two goals by Corriero just two minutes apart broke the game open in the first period. The first came on the power play at 10:03 when Corriero threw the puck across from a wide angle, and it deflected off Brown defenseman Myria Heinhuis into the net.
“I think that a lot of goals I’ve had this season, a lot of it has just been throwing it on net and just seeing what’s going to happen,” Corriero said. “With a lot of teams that are really aggressive, you’re not going to get the perfect shot, so you just got to go for the next best thing and just try to create some sort of panic in front of the net. I was kind of lucky, but definitely I’ll take it.”
Two minutes later, Julie Chu was left completely unmarked off a faceoff and walked in all alone on Brown goalie Stacy Silverman. Chu clanked the initial shot off the post, but Sarah Vaillancourt and Corriero were there to crash the net for the rebound.
Brown started to get back into the game over the next 20 minutes as Harvard was whistled for four of the next five penalties, but the Crimson defense and Ali Boe held strong en route to a 26-save shutout. Silverman played well with 25 saves on 29 shots, but she was hung out to dry all night as Brown was missing captain and defensive leader Amy McLaughlin. The power play also struggled without her to a 0-for-7 tune. Brown coach Digit Murphy could not be reached for comment after the game.
A crucial goal by Schroyer with seven minutes left in the second period gave the Crimson a 3-0 lead and the momentum the rest of the way. As Lindsay Weaver passed to Jennifer Sifers in front, Schroyer came darting out of the corner to receive the puck. With Sifers picking her defender, Schroyer was free to cut across and fire a backhand off the near-side post and into the net.
“The backhand is tricky, that’s why goalies have such a hard time with it,” Schroyer said. “You can’t really predict whether it’s going near side, far side, up or down. So I think [Silverman] was caught off guard where it was going. It went right off that post and in as close as you can get on that backhand.”
Schroyer’s goal was an exception on a team whose scoring has been concentrated on its top line and power play unit. Corriero alone has figured on more than two-thirds of Harvard’s goals. Schroyer had listened to the locker room talk about taking individual responsibility to spread the scoring across all lines.
“It really helps when we can get goals from the second and third lines because it really adds into the team effort,” Schroyer said. “I think people can feel more confident about what each player can do on the ice and where we can go with this team as a whole.”
For the fourth Harvard goal, Corriero took the puck behind the net and fed Vaillancourt in front at the crease on the power play. For the regular season series, Harvard finished 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) against the Bears on the man advantage. Brown’s penalty kill against all other teams has been 96-for-102 (94.1 percent).
“The difference with our power play is that we really try to make the seams by moving the puck as opposed to individual plays,” Corriero said. “[The Brown penalty killers] are very hard workers and it certainly wasn’t easy, but I think just by moving the puck quickly and by hustling to the puck and going top speed all over the offensive zone is what made the difference.”
The three consecutive victories to open the year allow Harvard to enter its exam break on a high note. Every Crimson player will be looking to maintain the current level of conditioning throughout the break before resuming play against Princeton and Yale.
“We’re going to make sure we don’t lose any edge we’ve got right now, because we’ve really worked hard to get to the point where we can play three solid periods of hockey and look good while we’re doing it,” Schroyer said.