HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth achieved some much-needed success against quality competition with a 3-1 win over No. 7 Harvard Monday night at Thompson Arena. The Big Green improved its record against ranked opposition to 2-5 on the season as it exploited a rusty Harvard team that had been out of action since Jan. 11 for first semester exams.
Harvard (10-7-1, 7-3-2 ECACHL) struggled moving the puck from the outset of the game. The Crimson never came up with a solution for the heavy pressure defense of Dartmouth (9-8-2, 6-5-1 ECACHL). Dartmouth’s aggressive forecheck and transition defense harassed the Harvard icers into a numerous neutral zone turnovers, but also resulted in a number of early penalties.
In addition to having difficulty moving up the ice, the Crimson struggled to maintain control of the puck in the offensive end, and Harvard’s four defensemen in particular had difficulty with blocked shots and turnovers. Sophomore defenseman Jessica McKenzie was out with a flu bug, leaving the team with just one junior and three freshmen at the blue line.
The aggressive play in the neutral zone pushed the Big Green into the lead early. Taking control of the puck near center ice, Freshmen Marley McMillan and Maggie Kennedy bore down on the right side of the Crimson net before dropping the puck off to classmate Shannon Bowman. Bowman’s backhanded shot beat Crimson goalie Ali Boe in the corner to give the Big Green a 1-0 lead at 14:59 of the first period.
The Dartmouth energy proved to be a double-edged sword in the early going. The Big Green was hit with five two minute penalties in the first period. Harvard evened the score in the second, when Katie Johnston put a backhander through traffic to convert a man advantage carrying over from the first. But that goal left the Crimson 1-for-5 on the power play for the night, and Dartmouth never took another penalty.
“Dartmouth did a really nice job defending our power play,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone said.
After lauding Dartmouth’s aggressive play, however, Stone offered a less pleasant assessment of her own team’s play.
“We just weren’t there tonight,” she said.
“Weren’t there” was an adequate description of Harvard’s penalty kill when Kennedy netted the game-winner on the power play, just two minutes after the Crimson tied the game. Bowman found her wide open on the left side, and she buried the puck past Boe, as she had plenty of time to pick her shot.
Freshman goaltender Carli Clemis and her 22 saves stood out about Dartmouth’s contributors tonight. Solid throughout, she finished the game with a flourish. With around seven minutes remaining, a face off in the right circle in the Dartmouth end skittered across the ice and onto the stick of Harvard senior Jennifer Raimondi. Clemis made a spectacular stop.
On the ensuing clear, when Dartmouth blocked yet another shot by a Crimson defenseman, Emily Nerland fed Julia Bronson for a perfect deflection into the net’s top left corner from the opposite side.
That Clemis was there between the pipes was a bit of a surprise. The Big Green alternates between starting Clemis and senior Kate Lane in goal. Lane, in the top five in wins, shutouts, and goals against average in Dartmouth history, figured to get the start in the Harvard game. Coach Mark Hudak had other plans.
“Harvard’s seen Lane every game for the last few yearsthis was an unknown for them,” Hudak said.
While freshmen scored all three of Dartmouth’s goals, one freshman noticeably absent from the scoring summary was Harvard’s Jenny Brine. She scored three goals in Harvard’s 4-1 romp over the Big Green earlier this year, but tonight she was limited to an assist and one shot on goal. Dartmouth outshot Harvard 23-11 over the final two periods.
Hudak said the victory was Dartmouth’s biggest of the season.
The Big Green hopes to carry its momentum into Friday’s 7 p.m. home game against Yale, while Harvard hosts Brown.