When the Harvard is on the ice this season, the Crimson will feature several new and returning faces.
With a diminished roster in 2013-2014 following injuries and Olympic team berths and its head coach out for the season while at the helm of Team USA, Harvard defied odds and expectations throughout last year’s campaign.
The Crimson ended the campaign with a 23-7-4 record, just one win shy of its previous season’s total, while contending for an ECAC championship and playing in the NCAA tournament.
With the return of veteran players from Sochi, a highly touted freshman class, and Harvard coach Katey Stone back at the Bright-Landry Center, the Crimson has all the pieces in place to achieve its ultimate goal of clinching the NCAA crown this year.
The absence of some key playmakers from the Crimson’s depleted squad last season left room for growth in the young but talented group.
“Our team had a fantastic season last year and great leadership by [interim coach] Maura [Crowell] and her staff,” Stone said. “A lot of kids stepped up and filled gaps that were needed. They really pulled the train, and other kids fell into place.”
Four of Harvard’s top five scorers last season were underclassmen. Then-sophomore Miye D’Oench led Harvard with 21 goals and 18 assists, a far cry from the 13 points she tallied in her first season with the Crimson. Classmate Mary Parker added 13 goals and 12 assists, while Hillary Crowe notched 30 points for Harvard in her junior season.
The more prominent roles and increased ice time for these players ensured that this season’s squad has a core of experienced veterans. Harvard also welcomes the return of co-captains junior Michelle Picard and senior Lyndsey Fry, who spent last year training and competing under Stone’s leadership for Team USA.
Harvard also welcomes a heralded recruiting class, further bolstering its lineup. The fresh faces are a welcome addition to a squad that carried only 18 players last campaign.
“[Last year], we had a really tight group which was great, but it was really limiting in other [respects],” D’Oench said. “Even at practice, what drills we can do and what games we can play in a regular practice is night-and-day from this year to last year.”
The biggest question will be if Stone can juggle the bevy of talent the Crimson possesses on the ice.
“We’ve done a lot of different things already with the lines,” D’Oench said. “It just shows all the options we have and the firepower that we can utilize in games.”
It seems as if Harvard is primed for success in this season’s campaign, but Stone is quick to avoid the Crimson looking too far down its schedule.
“The landscape is really challenging,” Stone said. “I think if we work really hard, we outwork people, stay committed to each other, you never know. But women’s college hockey is really competitive.”