BOSTON — For the second day in a row, the Bright Hockey Center hosted a goaltending duel in which nothing was decided after 65 minutes.
Freshman Brittany Martin was once again the story for Harvard (10-7-4, 7-3-4 ECACHL) as she allowed just one power play goal on 45 shots. Her performance matched longtime Crimson nemesis Sarah Love, who gave up one power play goal on 41 shots for Yale (7-10-5, 4-5-4).
“My team’s been there for me the whole time, they have a lot of confidence in me and I have a lot of confidence in them,” Martin said. “Their effort out there motivates me to work harder and we just feed off each other.”
Martin stepped up this weekend with senior Ali Boe out with a concussion and stopped 76 of 77 shot in her first action against teams likely to qualify for the postseason. Her play might leave Harvard coach Katey Stone with a tough starting decision for the Beanpot Tuesday, although it might be moot if Boe is not cleared.
“Certainly Brittany Martin, as she should, has made it very difficult on the coaching staff, which is exactly what you want,” Stone said.
Each team’s day was colored with missed opportunities, Yale’s especially. The Bulldogs twice thought they had scored on a five-on-three in the first period, but one chance died on a quick whistle and the other died on a high-sticking call. Yale was also the victim of a quick whistle in the third period.
“A disallowed goal is something that’s a little frustrating because kids work so hard, and goals aren’t easy to come by,” said Yale coach Hilary Witt, “But the officials have to make their calls. If they lose sight of the puck, there’s not much you can do.”
For the second game in a row, Harvard was content with its work ethic in generating more than 40 shots. But scoring one goal on 86 shots this weekend left something to be desired.
“It’s just a matter of bearing down, and hard work brings luck,” said senior Jennifer Raimondi. “The harder we grip our stick, the worse it’s going to get. All we can do is keep trying. We’re getting opportunities and that’s half the battle.”
Raimondi finally broke the ice for the Crimson with the game’s first goal at 6:48 of the second period on the power play. On the score, stringing together several passes resulted in an easy finish. Defenseman Lindsay Weaver fed the puck to freshman Sarah Wilson at the top of the circle, and Wilson found classmate Jenny Brine at the end line as Raimondi sneaked down low on the weak side.
“Brine hit me with the perfect pass, and all I had to do was just touch it,” Raimondi said.
Stone took a lot of positives away from the weekend’s two ties, but the Crimson’s lack of discipline was not one of them. The low point came in the third period when Harvard took four penalties in a row in pairs, and Yale went on the five-on-three for the second and third occasions of the afternoon.
“We very undisciplined in the second period and as a result, got very tired,” Stone said. “We took stupid penalties in the second period. We just can’t afford to do that. It’s something we had gotten better at, and it kind of creeped back into our game. We do a nice job of killing penalties but we’re doing it too often.”
The lack of discipline cost Harvard the lead at 14:06 of the second period when freshman Maggie Westfal tied the game on a screen shot from the point through two pairs of players from each team. The goal came shortly after the first of two Harvard penalties had expired.
“I was trying to stay down low and cover the low part of net because I couldn’t see anything, especially five-on-three when they have so much traffic in front of the net, it’s all you can really do,” Martin said.
Westfal had typically played forward this season but found success moving back to the blue line this weekend.
“Playing Dartmouth and Harvard on the road is a little nerve-wracking, but she handled it like a pro,” Witt said of Westfal. “She did a great job, and I thought she was one of our top D this weekend. We appreciate that effort from her, and we like that we have a lot of options.”
Neither Harvard nor Yale took another penalty after Yale tied the game.
“I got a lot of practice [killing five-on-threes], I think we’re pretty proficient at that now, and I don’t think we need to work on it any more, hopefully we won’t have to for the rest of the season,” said Martin facetiously.
Yale’s leading per-game scorer Crysti Howser led all skaters with 10 shots but could not put one home. She had a breakaway on Martin early in the second period but put it off her shoulder. In the third period, Martin stopped Howser low in the right corner. Howser wrapped around the net only to have Martin stop her on the other side.
“If she could just bury them, we’re in business,” Witt said of Howser. “The good news is she gets herself in position to bury them, so it’s one of those things, when you’re having trouble in a funk, you just got to get it in once, and I think it’s going to keep coming for her. She’s frustrated, but she’s a great player, so I think she’ll be just fine.”
Yale next hosts a pair against ECACHL cellar team Union, followed by a Tuesday game against travel partner Brown. The Bulldogs sit eighth in the league standings right now but believe they are capable of making a move up.
“We’ve won some games where I don’t think we played well, and we tied some games and lost games we deserved to win, so it’s funny how the puck bounces,” Witt said.
Harvard will look to find its scoring touch in time for its Beanpot semifinal against Boston University on Tuesday. The Crimson hopes its new line combinations will start to gel now that the team is one week into its schedule following January exam break.
“We need to get that physical and mental edge that comes from playing games and getting into that week-by-week routine,” Stone said. “We changed up the lines today and saw things we liked. We generated a spark with different people.
“I know what kind of team we are. We’re not flashy, we’re not a huge playmaking team, we need to keep it simple, play defense, and work our way up the ice. So the answers to our problems are not complicated, but they’re not easy either.”