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February 26, 2013

Cornell, Harvard Share Women's Ice Hockey Title

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard earned a share of its first Ivy League women's ice hockey championship since 2009 by defeating Yale, 3-1, Tuesday night at Bright Hockey Center.

The Crimson, which played in its final regular season game of the year, tied Cornell with an 8-1-1 record in the Ancient Eight. Cornell, earning a piece of the title for the fourth consecutive year, clinched its share of the title with a scoreless tie against Dartmouth nearly two weeks ago. Harvard, with two games remaining, did its part by defeating Brown and Yale to lock up the tie.

It is only the second time that the Ivy League title has been shared in women's ice hockey since League play began in 1975-76. Brown and Cornell shared the title in 1980-81.

The Bulldogs kept it close with Harvard, despite the Crimson outshooting Yale, 38-12. Harvard needed a third-period goal from Kaitlin Spurling to close out Yale, which benefited from 35 saves from goaltender Jaimie Leonoff. The Crimson's Laura Bellamy countered with 11 saves in net.

Harvard opened the scoring in the fifth minute as Yale could not control the puck in its own defensive end. Leonoff sent a clear off the boards, before a Bulldog defender missed the puck in attempt to take it up the side, and Mary Parker made Yale pay for the miscue. She picked up the spinning puck in the right circle and fired past Leonoff, who had become set in the net, with a top-shelf rocket off the pipe and past the line.

Yale's Patricia McGauley answered six minutes later to even the score in the frame that saw Harvard take nine shots on net compared to Bulldogs' four. McGauley stuffed in a rebound once Bellamy stopped a Natallie Wedell attempt.

After a scoreless second period, Spurling's goal came at 4:30 of the third from below the left faceoff dot. The senior skated the puck from past center ice to the circle, where she snapped a shot at Leonoff. The Yale netminder got her glove on the puck, but it popped out and into the side of the net for what would eventually be the gamewinner.

Bellamy made six saves on Yale during the next 13:58, before Harvard tacked on an empty-net score.