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women's college hockey notebook

That year off did not seem to affect the Harvard women’s hockey team

Coach Katey Stone's Crimson are on a five-game winning streak.Jim Davis

Many didn’t know what to expect out of the Harvard women’s hockey team this season. With their team paused for the 2020-21 season, there was little idea of what the Crimson’s potential could be once they returned to play.

Now that the season is in its second half, the answer is clear: Harvard’s ceiling is very high.

With last weekend’s 3-2 edging of one of the nation’s best teams, Quinnipiac, the Crimson jumped to the sixth and eighth spots in the two major Division 1 polls, and junior Anne Bloomer feels that that could just be the beginning.

The win over Quinnipiac, said Bloomer, “showed what our potential is. It improved our confidence, because it showed how good we are and how good we can be.”

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The night before that impressive victory, Harvard defeated Princeton, 1-0. The Crimson have a five-game winning streak, and their 11-3 conference record has them first in the ECAC standings as they enter an important North Country series against Clarkson (ranked 10th) and St. Lawrence.

“I feel like we have been playing pretty well with our wins against Princeton and Quinnipiac,” said Bloomer. “We are definitely trending upwards.”

Bloomer has been a key part of Harvard’s success. She is third on the Crimson in points with 18, coming on 13 goals and 5 assists. In a Jan. 18 game against Dartmouth, Bloomer scored her first hat trick in an 8-0 win.

Despite growing up in Chicago, Bloomer is no stranger to Cambridge. Her father Andrew took the ice for the Crimson and graduated in 1988.

“When I was younger and we would come back from his reunions, I learned how special his time at Harvard and his time on the hockey team was,” said Bloomer. “I picked up on it early on. It’s been special to get to have the Harvard experience.”

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Harvard's Anne Bloomer, left, and teammate Shannon Hollands celebrate a goal against Northeastern in the 2020 Women's Beanpot.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

The Harvard experience of late has required a fair bit of flexibility. Last season, Bloomer and most of her teammates unenrolled and took a gap year to preserve their eligibility, since Ivy League schools have not allowed student-athletes an extra year because of the pandemic. Once the players returned in the fall, they faced little disruption until this month, when COVID considerations caused several games to be rescheduled.

The team didn’t flinch, and much of that was due to storied head coach Katey Stone.

“Everyone was taking it one day at a time,” said Bloomer. “Our coach spoke about being prepared every day. Our team was in a great physical and mental space.”

A packed February includes home rematches with Princeton and Quinnipiac. It also includes next week’s Beanpot, which Harvard opens with a matchup against Boston University.

“It’s such an iconic tournament, especially in Boston,” said Bloomer. “People on campus who aren’t hockey fans know about it, and they always ask us about it.”

Those classmates will be buzzing if the Crimson make their way back to campus with the trophy for the first time since 2015, and Bloomer hopes it happens.

“We haven’t captured the title in a couple of years, and I don’t think anyone currently on the team has won one,” said Bloomer. “It would be special to win.”

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An idea to revisit

The women may be kicking off the Beanpot prior to the men this year because the first Tuesday in February comes before the first Monday, but did you know that in 1984, there was an idea floated for that to be put into practice for the championship games?

In a Feb. 10, 1984, column in the Globe, then-Harvard women’s coach John Dooley suggested that the women’s championship game be played at Boston Garden as the first part of a doubleheader. The consolation games for both tournaments would be scuttled.

Dooley told Globe scribe Bob Monahan, “I think that the fans who come early would get a kick out of watching women’s teams play rather than a meaningless men’s consolation game.”

Thirty-eight years later, the idea is still raised from time to time, but it has yet to come to fruition.

NU ranks first

In both polls, Northeastern leaped to the No. 1 ranking this week. The Huskies’ 21 victories are the most in Division 1, giving them the juice to jump from third to first. They are no strangers to the top spot. They achieved their first No. 1 ranking last spring and held it for several weeks during their 2020-21 campaign … Boston University freshman goalie Callie Shanahan recorded 53 saves Friday evening in a 6-3 loss to Northeastern. It was the highest save tally for a BU backstopper since Erin O’Neil’s 54 in a 2016 Hockey East semifinal, which was also against the Huskies … With an impressive 4-2 victory over Providence Tuesday evening, Boston College captured its third straight win. Senior Kelly Browne has been key for the Eagles as of late, with six assists during the winning streak.

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