Princeton women’s ice hockey (11-9-3 overall, 7-7-2 ECAC) hosted a pair of Ivy and ECAC rivals in No. 5 Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend. The Crimson (17-2-3, 13-2-2) edged out the home team 2-3 Friday night, extending their four-game winning streak and continuing their run at the top of the ECAC table. The following day Princeton overcame Dartmouth’s Big Green (7-15-1, 6-10-1) in a 3-2 game which saw a remarkable 23 penalties served for a total of 57 minutes.
Princeton faced an uphill battle against a fast and skilled Crimson squad, who from the opening face-off played at a level worthy of their top-five national ranking. Sophomore goalie Kimberly Newell started in the crease for the Tigers, with Harvard’s Emerance Maschmeyer in the opposite goal. Newell came into the weekend with a .902 save percentage and 2.86 goal against average. Maschmeyer and her defensive unit have managed a .956 save percentage with 1.30 goals against per game, good for the nation’s second-best scoring defense. Her freshman teammate Brianna Laing, the sister of Princeton’s senior captain Denna Laing, has started in four games this season.
Back in October for their season’s second game, the Tigers traveled to Cambridge and left having suffered a 0-4 loss to the Crimson. Sophomore forward Jaimie McDonell commented on the early season motivation. “A lot of people got angry,” she said. “And they channeled it in the right direction. We were really focused. You can tell in warm-up when things are just clicking. You could tell that everyone was mentally and physically there and ready to play.”
The first period ended in a 0-0 deadlock, with the home team holding a 5-3 shot advantage. Only 38 seconds into the second period, Princeton’s McDonell tapped the puck past the goalie on an assist from junior defender Ali Pankowski to give her side their first and only lead. The one-goal advantage proved short-lived as Harvard’s Sydney Daniels equalized less than 20 seconds later.
Regarding the quick equalizer and its psychological impact, McDonell remarked that her team managed to retain a competitive mindset. “It was definitely a bit of a deflator. Overall I was very proud of how our team handled it,” she said. “The fact that we stayed in the game, didn’t give up on ourselves, and didn’t start pointing fingers at each other really helped us stay in the game and keep it a game.”
Throughout the rest of the period, Harvard peppered Newell with shots from all over the ice, dominating possession and frequently finding space in the offensive zone. The next goal came from the visitors, and the teams went into the final period with the Crimson leading 1-2.
A persevering Princeton squad broke through on a power play to draw level. Junior forward Brianna Leahy notched her third goal and eighth point of the year off a deflected shot from senior defender Rose Alleva. Unable to regain the lead, the Tigers eventually conceded a pair of penalties, the second of which resulted in a Crimson game-winning power play goal. With less than seven minutes to play, Newell managed a number of close saves but could not hold off a redirection by Harvard’s Mary Parker on the crease.
The threat of an equalizing Princeton goal remained until the final seconds. Newell hustled off the ice for two minutes to allow her team an extra skater as the clock ran down, but the visitors held on to complete their sweep of the Tigers and remain atop the Ivy League and ECAC.
Dartmouth’s Big Green, who came into the weekend tied for eighth in the conference, visited Baker Rink the following day in a game where both teams were eager to pick up points vital to their playoff hunt. A 3-2 score in Princeton’s favor repeated the result of the Tigers’ season-opener in Hanover.
“The league in general is very close, especially the four above and below the eight-team cutoff for the playoffs,” McDonell said regarding the conference’s late-season outlook. “Everyone needs these points if they want to stay a contender.”
Both teams lacked offensive composure in the first period. Princeton took the first lead at the 18:12 mark when junior defender Brianne Mahoney beat Dartmouth’s Lindsay Holcroft on an assist from freshman forward Fiona McKenna. Under a minute later, the visitors responded with a precision strike by Lauren Stacey, who carried it across the crease and found space to shoot and beat Newell.
The second period opened with more poise from both teams, resulting in a number of quality shot opportunities parried by impressive goalie play on both sides. Despite Princeton’s 12 and Dartmouth’s 11 shots on goal, the middle 20 minutes expired with no additions to the score.
Just 30 seconds into the final period, McDonell broke open the scoring off an assist from Laing and beat Holcroft to the near glove-side. At the five-minute mark the Tigers earned their game-winning goal as senior forward Sally Butler found Liang in front of the crease. The Princeton captain knocked it past the Big Green goalie for her team-leading eighth goal and 15th point.
During the final 20 minutes the teams combined for 13 penalties. Dartmouth served seven, including a five-minute major for hitting from behind and a 10-minute misconduct penalty — neither able to be served in full as the infractions occurred within the last two minutes of play. Man-down for almost six consecutive minutes, the Big Green struggled to put together the offense needed for a third goal.
McDonell commented on the controversial nature of certain late-game calls, the totality of which in her opinion served to slow down the pace of play. “It was so frustrating,” she began. “I can’t say I agree on almost any of those calls. Those last eight minutes deflated our energy a bit.”
When time expired, the Tigers stood victorious by a 3-2 margin. As the season closes out, the Tigers will work to stay in the playoff race. When it comes to earning an Ivy title, a preseason goal according McDonell, Princeton faces an uphill battle. “At this point, with the loss to Harvard and win against Dartmouth, it still can happen,” McDonell noted. “But it’s slightly out of our control.”
Next weekend the team will travel to New York for conference matchups against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.