BOSTON, Mass. — No matter the personnel, Harvard has typically found a way to get the job done on special teams, and Saturday’s 3-2 win over Princeton was no different. But despite the No. 7 Crimson’s three power play goals and early success on the penalty kill, there was still plenty of room for improvement.
“We’ve got just about everything to work on,” said Harvard Katey Stone, whose Crimson (3-0, 2-0 ECACHL) side was outshot 32-21 against the Tigers (2-1-1, 1-1) and 35-29 in Friday’s 5-3 win over Quinnipiac. “We’re very fortunate to come out of here with two wins this weekend. We played hard, we found a way to win, but it wasn’t pretty. Hopefully we’ll get better with puck responsibility.”
Senior Jennifer Raimondi’s leadership on both sides sparked the Crimson win. After falling down 1-0 just past the game’s halfway point, Raimondi netted the first two Crimson power play goals and initiated a pretty tic-tac-toe goal that went through Katie Johnston to Sarah Wilson at the back door for a 3-1 lead with 7:26 left to go.
Through three games, Raimondi is the nation’s leader in points per game, and the Crimson power play ranks as the nation’s best, despite the dramatic turnover in personnel from last season.
“She’s a tremendous leader in our program,” Stone said. “We need these kids stepping up. They’ve played with some of the best players in the world in their time at Harvard. They’re well-seasoned. They know what to do.”
To top off her day, Raimondi stepped up to take the game’s final draw and won it clean. Princeton pressured Harvard to the end after Sarah Butsch scored in the slot on a Dina McCumber feed from behind the net to make the score 3-2 with 1:14 left.
“I had some luck throughout the game, I was doing alright on the faceoffs, so I had the confidence going in to say, ‘Hey, I want that puck to be dropped to me,’” Raimondi said. “Those are the spots I want to be in. And I iced the puck [leading to the faceoff], so I needed to make up for it.”
Princeton has outshot its opponents in every game this season but only has two wins to show for it. The Tigers struggled to generate offense, particularly on the seven power play opportunities they had in the game’s first 30 minutes, including a feeble two-man advantage. In contrast, Harvard converted on its two-man advantage for its third goal with relative ease.
“We made some boneheaded plays,” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal. “As good as they are, we didn’t make it so hard for them to score.”
Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said a potentially serious arm injury to Brittany Salmon on the game’s second shift was a significant factor in the team’s power play struggles.
“It’s my fault, I should have had a kid ready and prepared in case someone goes down, so we were a little disoriented on the PP,” he said.
Princeton finally converted its eighth power play chance with seven minutes left in the second period. When Harvard failed to clear a rebound, none of the Crimson defenders could get to defenseman Dina McCumber, who roofed the puck over Crimson goalie Ali Boe for the 1-0 lead.
Facing its first deficit of the season, Harvard snapped to life. The Crimson quickly drew a penalty, and Raimondi provided the finish on a low, long shot in the slot through traffic at 14:08 of the second period.
Raimondi put Harvard up 2-1 at 6:41 of the third period when she buried a long rebound in the slot through traffic in front. Wilson’s goal on the two-man advantage made Harvard 3-for-8 on the power play for the day.
The Crimson started 0-for-3 on the power play but improved after slight adjustments to personnel and improved fundamentals.
“Really we just started to make tape-to-tape passes and get the puck on net,” Raimondi said. “We like to play fast, but not hurry, keep it simple, hit the singles, not the homies, and things start to go our way.”
Boe stopped 30 of 32 shots and earned praise for keeping the Crimson in the game during its early struggles. Roxanne Gaudiel stopped 18 of 21 in defeat.
Princeton next plays a road series against WCHA foe Ohio State, while Harvard resumes its conference schedule next weekend by hosting a tough conference pairing of Clarkson and No. 1 St. Lawrence. The Crimson will need to play better to stay with the Saints.
“I’m encouraged that we won two games this weekend,” Stone said. “I would have liked to have done it a little more convincingly, not in the sense of the score, but just in how we possessed the puck and made stronger team plays. That’s not there yet. When that comes, we’ll be in good shape.”