Harvard vs. Dartmouth,
The Greatest Games

To preview Dartmouth hosting Harvard with the ECACHL and Ivy titles on the line on Friday night, here’s an updated look at USCHO’s rankings of the 10 greatest games between the two New England rivals.

(First published Jan. 2004, updated Feb. 2005)

The Best of Harvard vs. Dartmouth (Post-1998)

10) March 16, 2003 – Dartmouth 7, Harvard 2 – ECAC Championship at Meehan Auditorium

Rankings and Pre-game Records: No. 1 Harvard ( 29-1-1), No. 4 Dartmouth (25-7)

The Setting: The consensus No. 1 since December, Harvard brought a 27-game unbeaten streak into the ECAC finale. Dartmouth, who was swept by Harvard during the regular season, was looking to nail down a Frozen Four berth.

The Run of Play: After fending off an initial flurry of shots by Harvard, Dartmouth jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the first intermission and 7-1 by the second. For the fourth straight season, Dartmouth eliminated Harvard from the ECAC tournament.

Memorable Anecdote: With Dartmouth’s all-time winningest goaltender Amy Ferguson stuck in the locker room with flu systems the morning of the game, Coach Judy Parish Oberting handed the reigns over to freshman Stephanie Cochran, who had never started a game in her life. Cochran didn’t even flinch. The neophyte stopped 33 of 35 Harvard shots and made the all-tournament team.

The Upshot: This game was neither close nor competitive, but it gets a spot on the list because it was such a colossal upset and the Dartmouth goaltending subplot was so compelling.

9) March 18, 2001- Dartmouth 3, Harvard 1-ECAC Championship at Thompson Arena

Rankings and Pre-game Records: No. 1 Dartmouth (25-3-1), No. 3 Harvard (23-8)

The Setting: An ECAC women’s hockey record crowd of 2,592 gathered at Thompson to see the ECAC coronation of Dartmouth, who had been No. 1 in the nation all season. The Big Green sought to avenge one of just three regular season losses (see No. 2).

The Run of Play: Because the final outcome was rarely in doubt, this game does not rank higher. Dartmouth took a 2-0 lead in the first period, and held the two-goal lead for all but 72 seconds the rest of the way. Jen Wiehn, the tournament MVP, scored two goals. All three Dartmouth goals originated from the points through traffic. Ferguson stopped 46 shots, including 22 third period shots and first period breakways from Harvard’s two all-time leading scorers Tammy Shewchuk and Jennifer Botterill. She dished out the heat as well as taking it, throwing down Harvard co-captain Angie Francisco to the ice late in the game.

Memorable Anecdote: Shewchuk blamed the defeat, as usual, on Harvard’s inability to get the bounces. Dartmouth coach Judy Parish-Oberting noted after the game, “My players did a lot of little things to get themselves the bounces.”

The Upshot: The game suffered in significance because both teams were effectively assured berths in the Inaugural 2001 Women’s Frozen Four the next weekend. Harvard took revenge on Dartmouth NCAAs, but only in bittersweet fashion in the consolation game.

8) February 27, 1999-Harvard 4, Dartmouth 3 (OT)-ECAC regular season at Bright Hockey Center

Rankings and Records: No. 1 Harvard (25-1), No. 6 Dartmouth (14-6-5)

The Setting: A spirited crowd of 1,023 showed up hoping to see Harvard’s 23rd straight victory. Dartmouth had struggled early in the season but came in fresh off a victory over eventual national runner-up UNH.

The Run of Play: In each period of regulation, Harvard scored once, and Dartmouth answered right back, which is why Harvard needed sudden death to finally win it. Canadian Olympians accounted for all four Harvard goals as Botterill netted the first two and Shewchuk scored the last two. Two-time U.S. Olympic medalist A.J. Mleczko gave Harvard three assists, including a set up of Shewchuk straight off the faceoff for the game-winner 2:52 into the overtime.

Memorable Anecdote: Tempers were hot towards the end of the game as Wiehn and Harvard freshman Angela Ruggiero exchanged shoves. Said Harvard coach Katey Stone of the physical play, “We’re the No. 1 team in the country, and if we’re still surprised about getting jabs from opponents, then we’re just babes in the woods.”

The Upshot: When the teams met again in the ECAC semifinals, Harvard didn’t let Dartmouth stick around in an 8-1 blowout, victory No. 30 of the Crimson’s national championship run. It would be the last victory over Dartmouth that Harvard would see for some time, however. The young goal scorers for Dartmouth-freshmen Correne Bredin, sophomore Liz Macri and sophomore Carrie Sekela–impacted the series for years to come.

7) February 7, 2003-Harvard 2, Dartmouth 1-ECAC regular season at Bright Hockey Center

Rankings and Records: No. 1 Harvard (17-1), No. 4 Dartmouth (16-5)

The Setting: Earlier in the week, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan had written that this game would be “The Best Show in Town.” A Harvard home record crowd of 1,741 answered the call despite a looming snowstorm. Dartmouth, who had struggled with injuries and national team absences all season, was looking to avenge a 9-2 defeat from November.

The Run of Play: Piper set up fellow Canadian national teammate Gillian Apps for the game’s first goal 3:44 into the game, before U.S. Olympian Julie Chu set up Harvard junior Lauren McAuliffe for the Crimson’s answer just 1:24 later. Harvard took the lead for good on an early 5-on-3. Cherie Piper, the first Olympic gold medalist to ever take the ice for an opposing team at Bright, blocked a shot from Botterill that bounced to Ruggiero in the high slot, from where she buried it past Ferguson. The game seemed destined to be a high scoring affair as Harvard led 2-1 after just 14 minutes, but defensive and penalty kill units took over for the rest of the evening and each team killed off a 5-on-3 to preserve the score. Jessica Ruddock made 21 saves for Harvard and Ferguson stopped 35.

Memorable Anecdote: Ruggiero was particularly pleased with this game-winner because of a three-year old grudge against Ferguson. Ferguson, in describing a save on Ruggiero from the 2000 ECAC semifinals (see below), had said, “I knew she was going high glove on me. She’s the kind of player that needs to beat you with a pretty goal.” Ruggiero remembered that as she beat her high blocker this time.

The Upshot: After the game, Oberting vowed continued improvement for Dartmouth, saying “I don’t think [Harvard] should be psyched to see us in the end.” Her words rang true in the ECAC championship game.

6) February 5, 2005-Harvard 6, Dartmouth 3-ECAC regular season at Thompson Arena

Rankings and Records: No. 2 Dartmouth (20-1), No. 6 Harvard (12-6-2)

The Setting: A crowd 1,391 showed for a Dartmouth team off to its best start ever. Harvard, off to its worst start in years, was showing signs of turning its season around.

The Run of Play: This game was closer through the first two periods than the final score indicated. Apps scored just seconds into the game to put Dartmouth up 1-0, but a pair of goals by Nicole Corriero gave Harvard a 2-1 lead by the first intermission. Twice Dartmouth came back to tie the game, but Harvard answered right back each time. The most dramatic moment came in the final minute of the second period when Corriero scored just 13 seconds after Dartmouth’s third goal. In the third period, Corriero added an insurance goal on a breakaway and an empty-netter to cap the best individual offensive performance in Harvard-Dartmouth history.

Memorable Anecdote: Corriero’s five-goal performance was the first ever against a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. Said Harvard coach Katey Stone, “She’s got a nose for the net. She’s like Phil Esposito. He wasn’t pretty, but he got it done.”

The Upshot: The victory confirmed that Harvard would indeed be a national contender this season. Going into Friday’s rematch, the Crimson has maintained an unbeaten mark in 2005. Dartmouth hasn’t had anything close to a full, healthy lineup in the two weeks since this game. Time will tell the significance of this game in the course of the current season.

5) January 11, 2004-Dartmouth 2, Harvard 1-ECAC regular season at Bright Hockey Center

Rankings and Records: No. 2 Harvard (13-0-1), No. 3 Dartmouth (10-1-2)

The Setting: Since No. 1 Minnesota had lost to UMD earlier in the week, this game was certain to decide the new No. 1. An eastern regular-season record crowd of 1,921 showed.

The Run of Play: The first 35 minutes produced a wild goaltending battle in which red-hot freshman Christine Capuano and sophomore Ali Boe each made more than a dozen saves in the first period and kept up the pace in the second. Things were looking grim for Dartmouth in the final minutes of the second period as Harvard’s Jennifer Raimondi finally cracked the scoreboard and Piper left the game with a deep bruise. But early in the third period, Dartmouth tri-captain Sarah Clark tied the game after pick-pocketing the puck, and she netted the game-winner in the final minutes when her pass from behind the net took a lucky bounce off Boe’s back. Harvard poured the pressure on Capuano down the stretch, but she held strong with 37 saves.

Memorable Anecdote: Clark had just seven goals during all of senior season. Three of them came against Harvard.

The Upshot: This game was merely a prelude to what would come.

4) February 27, 2004-Dartmouth 3, Harvard 2-ECAC regular season at Thompson Arena

Rankings and Records: No. 1 Harvard (22-2-1), No. 3 Dartmouth (18-5-2)

The Setting: Injury-plagued Dartmouth was in desperate need of a victory after losing four of five games, and Piper remained out of the lineup. Harvard, who had ridden strong February results into the No. 1 ranking, provided a welcome opportunity for redemption in front of 1,555 fans.

The Run of Play: This one might have been the most emotional of all the Harvard-Dartmouth games. It’s most remembered for Ruggiero’s game disqualification for kicking Katie Weatherston in the head after the two become entangled along the sideboards, but there was plenty more that made this game unforgettable. There was yet another stellar performance by Sarah Clark against Harvard, as she scored the first Dartmouth goal on a screen shot and set up the second goal to capitalize on Ruggiero’s penalty. Down 2-0 without its star defenseman, Harvard nonetheless staged a stunning comeback. Co-captain Lauren McAuliffe’s gritty play drew a couple penalties at the end of the second period to swing momentum back in the Crimson’s favor, and both Nicole Corriero and Jennifer Raimondi capitalized on opportunities within the first four minutes of the third period to tie the game. That was all the scoring until the final 1:10, when Gillian Apps took the puck to the net uncontested off the faceoff to clinch the Dartmouth victory.

Memorable Anecdote: In Ruggiero’s absence, Julie Chu filled in as a blueliner. She not only proved herself defensively, she also single-handed deked three Dartmouth players down ice in setting up Raimondi for the second Crimson goal. “Chu’s such a versatile player; I think she could go in net if she had to,” McAuliffe said.

The Upshot: Sweeping Harvard and winning the Ivy title was all the satisfaction Dartmouth would get this season as the Big Green could never figure out how to beat St. Lawrence in four tries. In spite of the defeat, Harvard gained a tremendous amount of confidence and never trailed again until the third period of the NCAA final.

3) November 12, 1999-Dartmouth 5, Harvard 4 (OT)-ECAC regular season at Bright Hockey Center

Rankings and Records: No. 1 Harvard (2-0), No. 7 Dartmouth (2-0)

The Setting: A 600-strong crowd showed to watch Harvard raise its 1999 national championship banner. And there was a game too, against Dartmouth, who most expected to be the 33rd straight opponent to fall to the Crimson. Dartmouth was just a young team looking to establish itself.

The Run of Play: After 1:23, the score was 1-0 Dartmouth. After 11 minutes, it was 2-0 Dartmouth. After a period, it was 3-1 Dartmouth. Those three first period Dartmouth goal scorers were junior Kristina Guarino, now a Dartmouth assistant coach; freshman Carly Haggard, who went on to be Dartmouth’s third all-time leading scorer; and Lydia Wheatley, a future Dartmouth co-captain.
After two periods, it was 4-2 Dartmouth, but the Crimson scored twice in the third period to force overtime. This was business as usual for the Harvard win streak. The Crimson had won plenty of games when it had trailed, and Harvard had won five times in overtime.

But this was a new season. Two minutes into the extra frame, there was a neutral zone turnover, a Dartmouth shot, a rebound, and suddenly Wiehn was getting mobbed behind the net by her Dartmouth teammates.

Memorable Anecdote: The Dartmouth celebration took place right underneath that freshly raised Harvard national championship banner.
The Upshot: This game ranks high in significance. It was crucial to Dartmouth realizing it was better than the sixth-place team the ECAC polls had predicted, and so began Dartmouth’s rise and Harvard’s fall. The Big Green just about single-handedly ended the Crimson’s national title defense with three head-to-head victories that season to edge out Harvard for the final national tournament berth. Including this game, Dartmouth won 11 of its next 15 against the Crimson over five seasons.

2) February 17, 2001-Harvard 3, Dartmouth 2-ECAC regular season at Bright Hockey Center

Rankings and Records: No. 1 Dartmouth (19-1-1), No. 6 Harvard (16-7)

The Setting: In a dramatic role reversal from the year before, Dartmouth was now the consensus No. 1, and Harvard had struggled to an 8-6 start and plummeted in the rankings. The Big Green beat Harvard for a fourth straight time the previous November. A crowd of 1,066 showed at Bright hoping to see the Crimson regain the glory that had been lost since the national championship banner was raised.

The Run of Play: In an exciting end-to-end game, Shewchuk and Wiehn each tallied goals in the first period and the game remained tied until the 10th minute of the third period. When Haggard made a brilliant move, circling past two defenders for a 2-1 lead, Dartmouth seemed destined for a fifth straight win over Harvard. But as in each of the four previous losses to Dartmouth, Harvard came back from its first deficit. This time Kiirsten Suurkask slipped a backhand through a screen to tie the game 2-2, just minutes after Haggard’s goal.

The game-winner came from a familiar combination-Botterill from Shewchuk. The two worked a give-and-go to split the Dartmouth defense, and Botterill scorched the roof of the net to spoil an otherwise outstanding 38-save afternoon for Ferguson.

Memorable Anecdote: Midway through the second period, Ruddock lost sight of the puck as she ventured several feet out of the Harvard net. She nearly backed the puck in before Crimson defenseman Pamela Van Reesema made the smart play to shove it under her pads. “That was just for fun-I like to entertain the crowd,” Ruddock said of the incident. The crowd was far more grateful for Ruddock’s 25 saves on 27 shots.

The Upshot: This upset was as significant for Harvard as Dartmouth’s first upset of Harvard the season before. Not only did the Harvard victory avenge a string of previous defeats, it established Harvard as a favorite for a Frozen Four berth once again. The two rivals each ultimately fell in the Frozen Four semifinals, and split four games that season two apiece. This late season matchup ranks among the best of them for its playoff implications, its midseason atmosphere, and the closeness of the competition.

1) March 18, 2001-Dartmouth 3, Harvard 2 (OT)-ECAC semifinals at Meehan Auditorium

Rankings and Records: No. 2 Harvard (21-4-3), No. 6 Dartmouth (19-10-0)

The Setting: There was the ominous feeling that this game might determine the fourth and final spot in the national championship tournament, and it showed in the intensity of the fans and the players. The crowd of 2,417 was special in that constituents from Harvard and Dartmouth were there in full force in addition to the Brown supporters who stuck around from the first semifinal.

The Run of Play: Goals from future national teamer Kristin King and Sekela gave Dartmouth a 2-0 lead in the second period. Shewchuk cut the Harvard deficit to 2-1 early in third period. That score stood until the final seconds, when freshman Kalen Ingram–the extra Harvard attacker off the bench–deflected a slapshot from senior Christie MacKinnon into the upper corner of the net to save Harvard’s season for the time being.

Dartmouth outshot Harvard 10-2 in the epic overtime, but Harvard still had its share of chances. The most memorable came when Dartmouth left Ruggiero open at the point, and she fired a blistering shot that Ferguson nabbed with her high glove, Five minutes later, Ruggiero drew two defenders and set up Ingram all alone, but Ferguson stepped up and forced her backhand wide.

The game winner came from a familiar combination-Guarino from Wiehn. At 14:33 of the overtime, Wiehn won a neutral zone faceoff and led Guarino into the Harvard zone. With the Crimson defense closing in, she put the puck through the legs of senior Crystal Springer. The Harvard goaltender had kept her team in the game by stopping 35 shots that day, including a clean Haggard breakaway, but this one ended with the same outcome as the other three.

Memorable Anecdote: Dartmouth laid the smack down on Harvard both on and off the ice. Sekela said after the game, “We have more depth and a better goalie. We know that they’re a one line team.” Then there was the Ferguson comment that Ruggiero still remembered three years later (see above). Because of Olympic training, the Ruggiero shot was her last in the college game for another two years.

The Upshot: Each team felt it had a convincing argument to earn an at-large tournament bid after Dartmouth lost to Brown in the ECAC final. Harvard had Dartmouth beat in every national tournament selection criteria except one–head-to-head play. Dartmouth had beaten Harvard three times. A USA Hockey committee made the call, and it went to Dartmouth. The Big Green went on to lose to Brown for a third straight time in the national semifinals. The eventual national finalists Brown and Minnesota were both winless against Harvard during the regular season.

This Dartmouth win added more to the rivalry than any other. The Harvard players were furious to lose the national berth to a team that had lost twice as many games as them. Dartmouth players were frustrated that they still were lacking in national respect despite beating Harvard three times. Those memories, stinging for years, have been passed to future generations.

At present, Harvard is still winless against Dartmouth in their last four ECAC tournament meetings, despite last year’s ECAC title and back-to-back NCAA final appearances. In the last five years, Dartmouth has two ECAC titles, four national semifinal appearances and zero national championship game appearances.