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Goalie Looms Large In Dartmouth’s Draw

Hanover — During the course of a Dartmouth College women’s hockey season, the front of goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft’s white home jersey accumulates numerous puck marks and scuffs. The diminutive backstop earned a few more last night, stopping 41 Harvard shots as her team climbed back into a 2-2 tie with the third-ranked Crimson.

“There are some ties you get done with it and it feels like a loss, but others feel pretty close to a win,’’ said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak, whose team extended its home unbeaten streak to five games and snapped Harvard’s five-game winning streak in Thompson Arena. “Tonight, that tie doesn’t feel so bad. We still wanted the win, but against a team like that, we were pretty gutsy and we got some great play from our goaltender. We definitely look at this as a step forward.”

Holdcroft, a tiny junior who has been spectacular at times during her career, played one of her best collegiate games. Despite often winding up on the seat of her padded pants, the Pittsburgh native held her ground time after time as the Crimson buzzed around her, cranking off shots and skating through her crease. Harvard won the teams’ first meeting this season, 6-0, in Boston.

“Lindsay played really well tonight,” said Hudak, whose team improved to 12-7-4 overall and 4-2-1 in ECAC play. “She didn’t back down and that’s what we needed against a team like that.”

Said Holdcroft: “When you’re sitting on your butt in the middle of the crease during one of those flurries, you just try to make yourself as big as possible and look for a good moment to get up. We had some great blocked shots from my teammates, and that was huge in building our momentum.”

Harvard took a 1-0 lead after only two minutes, Kalley Armstrong walking off the right sideboards, past two defenders and flicking a backhand shot into the net off the near post as she cruised through the slot. Fewer than two minutes later, the visitors’ Lyndsey Fry appeared on the verge of giving her team a 2-0 lead, but her shot caromed off the crossbar, the left post and out.

“There were a couple of those in the first period where they could have scored more,’’ Holdcroft said. “That played a big part later in the game.’’

Frightfully lucky to escape the first few minutes down by only a goal, Dartmouth began to reshape the contest when Lindsey Allen tipped in a shot from the point by defenseman Olivia Whitford in the fifth minute. Harvard continued its dominance two minutes later, however, when it used tic-tac-toe passing and an easy tap-in at the right post to go up 2-1.

The Big Green began to truly assert itself 54 seconds into the second period when Laura Allen whipped in a shot from the left circle, off the crossbar and Harvard goaltender Laura Bellamy’s back. The power-play tally stood up the rest of the way, although Dartmouth was pinned in its own end for several long stretches, including the middle stanza’s final two minutes.

“A lot of credit to our kids for gutting it out and not panicking,’’ Hudak said. “We’d go a couple shifts where we were in real trouble, but we bounced back from them. It looked like we had a couple players who weren’t quite ready at the start of the game, but they came back around and worked it out.”

Overtime was mostly controlled by Dartmouth, which had a prime chance to win the game evaporate when Reagan Fischer fired wide of an open net a minute into extra time.

Notes: Harvard is 17-2-2 and 14-1-1 in league play. … Dartmouth is 0-4-2 against top-10 opponents this season. Its previous best effort was a tie against then-No. 5 Boston College. The Big Green’s last defeat of a ranked opponent came last season against No. 10 Northeastern. … Eight Dartmouth players have skated in more than 100 career games. Four of the team’s top five scorers this season are seniors… The Big Green’s top line of Fischer, Jenna Hobeika and Camille Dumais entered last night having scored 11 of the team’s last 17 goals. … Harvard has scored first in 18 of its 21 games, allowed just 19 goals this season and has outscored Ivy League opponents 30-4 this winter. … The contest was nationally televised by Fox College Sports. … Dartmouth is 44-38-4 against Harvard and 7-14-2 against the Crimson under Hudak. … Stacey’s goal snapped a 23-chance scoreless streak for Dartmouth’s power-play unit.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.