Despite being statistically eliminated from playoff contention, the women’s hockey team (3-18-3, 1-13-3 ECAC) had no shortage of motivation for a matchup against rival Harvard (12-9-2, 9-6-2) Friday night.
“We treated that game like it was our playoff game,” said Head Coach Bob Kenneally ’90.
Behind 51 saves from Monica Elvin ’17 and a late goal from Erin Conway ’17, the Bears battled to a 3-3 tie, snapping a 17-game losing streak against the Crimson dating back to 2007.
From the start, it looked like Elvin would keep the Bears in the game as she made 18 saves in the first period, compared to only four shots generated by Brown’s offense in a scoreless frame.
Bruno broke the deadlock 3:13 into the second period thanks to a slapshot from defenseman Kelly Micholson ’16 that beat Harvard goalie Brianna Laing. The goal was Micholson’s first of the season and gave the Bears a big boost early in the period.
Though the gap was less glaring, Harvard still outshot Brown 17-12 in the second period, allowing the Crimson plenty of chances to beat Elvin. Two unanswered goals put Harvard on top late in the period. The deficit was familiar, as the team had struggled with putting together a complete game all season, often falling victim to one bad stretch that proves insurmountable.
But the Bears did not back down, as Cara Najjar ’19 buried a rebound to tie up the game with just 1:46 left in the second frame.
Harvard’s Sydney Daniels put the Crimson back in front with her second goal of the game four minutes into the third period. Elvin remained rock-solid for the remainder of the period, with Harvard continuing to dominate puck possession.
Brown was given two power-play opportunities to flip the pressure back on Laing. After failing to capitalize on a tripping penalty 10:52 into the period, the second chance came five minutes later when Briana Mastel was penalized for body checking. Leah Olson ’19 fired a long shot that tipped off of Sam Donovan ’18 before heading into the path of Conway, who made the most of the great chance and knotted the score.
Elvin held strong through the remainder of the third period and in the five-minute overtime to secure the point for the Bears, the first for Brown against Harvard since a 0-0 tie Feb. 3, 2006.
While Kenneally speculated that the shot total might have been inflated by Harvard’s scorekeeper, he called Elvin’s 51-save performance “fantastic” nevertheless.
“She had some really acrobatic and athletic saves — controlled her rebounds well,” he said. “When goaltenders are confident and they compete, they give the team a chance to win.”
Great moments have been few and far between for the team this season, but a tie against the formerly top-10 ranked Crimson will undoubtedly be one of the more memorable games for the Bears.
“I was very proud of the team on Friday evening,” Kenneally said. “For us to go there and get a tie, it was an extremely rewarding evening for the entire team.”
Bruno traveled to Hanover Saturday to take on Dartmouth (5-16-3, 5-10-3). After an intense, emotional game the night before, little would go right for the Bears against the Big Green.
Dartmouth found the back of the net just 3:24 into the game and opened up a wide shot advantage in the first 20 minutes. Julianne Landry ’18 was in between the pipes for Bruno and kept the game close with a strong 15-save performance in the first period.
After killing all four penalties and adding a huge power-play goal the night before, poor special teams cost Brown dearly.
Bridget Carey ’19 was called for body checking at 12:51 in the second period, giving Dartmouth a man advantage. It would take the Big Green only eight seconds to capitalize and take a 2-0 lead. A tally from Laura Stacey extended the advantage to 3-0 seven minutes into the final frame.
Brown was given a great opportunity later in the period with a 5-on-3 power play. After the expiration of the first penalty, Kenneally decided to pull Landry for an extra attacker, extending the two-man advantage.
Unfortunately for Bruno, the strategy backfired as Stacey scored on the open net shorthanded for her second goal of the contest. Dartmouth finished the 5-0 drubbing with a goal in the final seconds, once again on the power play.
In addition to surrendering the shorthanded goal and two more on the penalty kill, Brown went 0-for-5 on the power play in the game.
Landry finished with 33 saves, while the Bears mustered only 13 shots on offense, the third-lowest total for the team all season.
Kenneally said Brown needs to develop a more level-headed demeanor going forward, partially crediting the poor performance to having to match the intensity of the rivalry game the night before.
“When a team hasn’t been successful, like Brown women’s hockey hasn’t been in a long time, it’s hard to be even-keeled,” he said.
With four games remaining and no chance to qualify for the ECAC playoffs, the Bears will look to close out the season on a high note. Brown will honor the team’s three seniors next Saturday against Colgate, following a matchup Friday with Cornell.
“I’ve stressed all year that this season is dedicated to the three seniors,” Kenneally said. “We’re going to play hard for Brown, play hard for the three seniors, and we’re going to play hard for the future.”