After being shut out for the first time in 83 games in a 1-0 loss to Providence on Saturday, the Harvard women's hockey team arrived at Bright Hockey Center last night ready to work the kinks out.
By the final horn, the team was steam-pressed.
The Crimson (14-3-3, 11-3-3 ECAC) leisurely shut out B.U. 7-0, scoring at will against a Terrier squad that normally plays as a club team.
Center Jen Botterill received a pass from defenseman Jamie Hagerman at the blue line, sliced through a couple of Terrier skaters between the circles and found rope at 6:47 of the first period to put the Crimson ahead for good.
Botterill's game-winner was her team-leading fourth of the season.
As the two teams stood on their blue lines for the national anthem, the difference between the squads was already clear.
B.U. looked small and young in comparison to the sharply-clad national champion Crimson squad who stood at the other end of the rink. The Terriers dressed 15 underclassmen and only two seniors for the game.
While the Crimson skated quickly to the bench and coach Katie Stone after the starting line-ups were announced, the Terriers glided to their goal, laughing and joking among themselves.
A sense of humor is exactly what they would need.
The Terriers won the face-off and registered a shot early on Crimson netminder Allison Kuusisto, who started in place of Crystal Springer.
Kuusisto saved all 12 of the Terriers shots, mostly redirecting errant wrist shots to her defensemen.
After B.U.'s initial success, the Crimson controlled the pace of play.
Harvard was sluggish early, toying with the Terriers in the offensive zone.
Botterill had a good chance in the first minute, skating unguarded within two feet of the Terrier crease. Instead of lighting the lamp, the sophomore decided to dump it across to line-mate Angie Francisco, who batted at the puck but missed the shot.
Forward Sally Maloney also missed an open net minutes later, when she botched a rebound that ricocheted off the boards behind the Terrier goal.
With five minutes of possession and no goals, the Crimson looked like it was in no hurry to reach its fourth-straight Beanpot final. One reason was Harvard's open style of play that characterized the offense all night.
Instead of consistently playing the safe pass, the Crimson spent much of the first period weaving passes horizontally through B.U.'s defense, leading to a couple of great chances and some Terrier transitions.
As the game wore on, the Crimson worked deep in the corners, skating around the outside of the Terrier defense while dropping the puck along the boards in a smoothly running rotation.
The movement paid off on the Crimson's second goal. Botterill skated behind the goal and up the right board, leaving the puck for Kara Lyons.
Lyons moved back down on goal, found Francisco on the far post and the forward found the net at 9:37.
The Crimson capped the period with its third goal at 18:08, when Botterill and Francisco combined to assist forward Vanessa Bazzocchi for the sophomore's first goal of the season.
Bazzocchi started on the first line in place of Tammy Shewchuck.
Shewchuck and two other Crimson players were suspended for the evening for missing a practice without notification, according to coach Stone.
After a sluggish first period, Harvard returned to the ice with a mind to put the game away.
After Kuusisto batted away another early Terrier shot with her stick handle, the Crimson moved up ice and into the B.U. zone, where they would spend much of the next 20 minutes.
Forward Kim McManama made it 4-0 at 1:23 when she got a backhand pass from forward Tracy Catlin, who was moving out of the zone before stealing the puck from a Terrier defenseman.
McManama turned and found herself alone in front of the net.
Only 32 seconds later, the lamp behind the Terrier net was red again.
Forward Tara Dunn found forward Cory Waldinger in a scrum in front of the net to make it 5-0.
Waldinger's goal was a welcome one on the Crimson bench, as it was the first to be scored against the club team by someone not on the first line.
To complete the cycle, the Crimson's first line scored on the next shift. Francisco found herself behind the net with plenty of time to find Botterill directly in front of her.
Botterill beat Terrier goalie Megan Connor for her second goal of the game and stretched the lead to 6-0. With a comfortable lead, Stone called off the Crimson onslaught.
"The B.U. kids were working so hard and they're doing the best they can--we don't want to go out there and make some sort of statement and embarrass anyone," Stone said. "We wanted to move the puck and we felt we could work on some things without having to score all the time."
Instead of shooting, the Crimson began a period of possession, in which they spent much of the remaining 18 minutes packed in the Terrier zone, moving the puck from the corners to the point and back down again along the boards.
"I think scoring is great and we can do that, but we really wanted to work the puck up and down the ice, forward and back, deep in the corners then back to the D[efense], finding as many seams as possible," Stone said.
The Crimson had no trouble finding the passing lanes. After a checking penalty on a Terrier defenseman at 12:42, Harvard kept the puck in the B.U. zone until 15:29, when it was cleared down ice to a waiting Kuusisto.
At the beginning of the third period, The Crimson defense combined for the Crimson's final goal. Off a clearing pass from Kuusisto, defenseman Angela Ruggiero found defenseman Melissa Milbert between the circles. Milbert turned on net and chipped in.
Milbert's goal received extra cheers from the Harvard bench. The senior has been plagued by knee injuries throughout her career, and underwent her sixth surgery as a Crimson player over Christmas.
"Melissa just had surgery, and she got a hardship waiver just so she could be on the roster," Stone said. "Tonight is the only night she's playing, and we wanted to get her one more opportunity to score."
Harvard could have scored many more times, but as in the second period, the Crimson opted to pass around the zone, swerving away from net on breakaways and passing up open nets for possession.
Towards the end of the final stanza, the Crimson began to take a number of slap shots from the point, but Connor had no problem holding the deficit at seven.
"Give credit to B.U. tonight," Stone said. "Their goaltender played especially well and they really came with a serious effort."
The Crimson will play Northeastern in the championship next Monday night, after B.U. faces B.C. in the consolation game. The Huskies topped B.C. last night 7-0 in the evening's first game.
The meeting will be the third straight Beanpot title match between the Crimson and the Huskies. Harvard beat Northeastern 7-6 in overtime last year.
Before they get a chance at to take home their second straight pot, however, the Crimson has to weather a tough weekend on the road.
The Crimson will face B.C. across the river on Saturday, and then it travels to Dartmouth on Sunday.
The Crimson lost to Dartmouth, 5-4, in overtime at the beginning of the year.