Harvard and Princeton both bounced back from their exam breaks in style. The Crimson scoring a 17-2 victory over Boston College that shattered the school record books and the Tigers beat McGill 3-1 in an exhibition — no easy task with All-World Canadian goaltender Kim St. Pierre in the net.
The No. 1 Crimson had played just 15 games over the first three months. Now Harvard plays its last 14 regular-season games in five weeks, to the team’s delight.
“That’s the way it should be,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We’ve done a lot of practicing, now we’re into fine-tuning. We need to get into game shape. The best way to do it is by playing games.”
Harvard’s next test is the best of the CHA, Niagara and Mercyhurst. The matchup between the Crimson and Lakers features the two teams with the nation’s longest unbeaten streaks and two top-ranked defenses. Stone is looking forward to the good competition.
“Our kids are so fired up to be playing games,” Stone said. “They’re not going to miss an opportunity to play great. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The 17 goals against BC were a new school record, snapping a 15-goal mark set against Colby in 1999, and captain Jennifer Botterill set a new Harvard single-game record of 10 points with three goals and seven assists. It didn’t even top the Ivy mark, however: current Dartmouth coach Judy Parish-Oberting had a 12-point game to her credit back in her playing days.
Between captain Kalen Ingram’s thumb injury and Botterill’s one-weekend departure to Canada, Harvard has only played four games with its full lineup. Harvard has outscored opponents by a total of 48-4 in those games. The opponents weren’t the strongest — Vermont, a shorthanded Dartmouth team, Wayne State, and Boston College — but the result is impressive.
Both Harvard and Princeton had to work out some kinks at the start of exam period. Harvard let BC become the first team all season to score two first-period goals against Jessica Ruddock, though both goals were actually deflected in by Harvard defenders.
As Stone put it, “We got all the goals tonight, scored two on ourselves.” Princeton struggled out of the gate in its first period and found itself trailing by a goal at intermission. But the Tigers came through with three for the victory by the end.
“I thought we were lousy first period,” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal. “Kim St. Pierre was pretty tough. We kept our poise and kept plugging away.”
After playing Vermont on Friday, No. 8 Princeton takes on No. 4 Dartmouth on Saturday in the biggest league game of the week. The Big Green is the hottest team in the ECAC that actually played in the past two weeks. Kampersal took a good look at them on tape and he was impressed, as usual, by his elite foe.
“They’re getting all their players back and they look loaded,” he said. “We’re going to have to play pretty smart to get this done.”
For the Big Green, first-line center Meagan Walton is gone for the season, but Cheryl Muranko is on the verge of a comeback. With 12 forwards again, Dartmouth can not only beat teams by rolling four lines as it has traditionally done in years past, but the team also now has snipers like Cherie Piper and Gillian Apps who can score from anywhere on the ice, and a defenseman in Correne Bredin who can join the rush. It’s a tough task for anyone to stop.
“We have some pretty special players too-it’s just a matter of keeping it simpler,” Kampersal said. “You worry about everyone, not just one person. Their strength forever has been that they through four lines at you and come at you in waves. But I know they do have Cherie Piper and Gillian Apps, and we’ll pay a little bit more attention to those guys.”
One advantage Princeton might be able to exploit is the power play. The Tigers have the second-best power play to the country, while Dartmouth’s penalty kill is the worst among nationally-ranked teams.
“I think our success had been special teams and goaltending,” Kampersal said. “We’re going to need to have those going against Dartmouth to win.”
It won’t surprise anyone if the ECAC leads all conferences in Kazmaier finalists. The Final 10 will be released on Monday, January 3.
Harvard’s Botterill and Angela Ruggiero, the nation’s two leading scorers per game, are sure picks. Dartmouth’s Carly Haggard, a final three pick last year and this week’s USCHO Player of the Week, should have no trouble garnering recognition as well. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Kampersal nominated his team’s leading scorer Andrea Kilbourne, who was a finalist two years ago. Though her numbers this season — seven goals and 11 assists — have often been matched by players like Botterill and Haggard in a single week or two, Kampersal knows Kilbourne means so much more to the team.
“[Kilbourne] statistically is probably not with the other kids who have been talked about,” Kampersal said. “But she does a little bit of everything for us. They don’t count blocked shots, they don’t count faceoffs won, they don’t count leadership, she has all those intangibles.”