With 15 screaming family members cheering her on, freshmen forward Nicole Corriero scored a goal in a 2-2 exhibition tie at the University of Toronto last weekend. With 233 members of her Harvard family in attendance at the Bright center last night, Corriero was three times as productive.
Led by Corriero’s hat trick, the Harvard women’s hockey team (5-4-1, 3-1 ECAC) crushed Boston College, 5-0 (2-9-1)last night.
B.C., last year’s cellar team of the ECAC, has had some fine moments this season. The Eagles lost 4-3 in overtime to No. 6 Niagara on Saturday after squandering a 3-0 lead, and earlier dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to No. 2 Dartmouth.
Harvard, however, was well-prepared.
“We moved our feet, [senior goaltender Alison] Kuusisto made some big saves,” said Harvard Coach Katie Stone. “We really put the juice on, had a lot of shots, a nice back-checking effort.”
The Crimson dominated its crosstown rivals, outshooting the Eagles 25-18. To its credit, the overmatched BC squad played hard for 60 minutes, even outshooting the Crimson 10-7 in the final period.
Kuusisto was tested on several occasions, including on two breakwaways late in third period..
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, but I was able to stay focused,” Kuusisto said. The Minnesota native recorded 18 saves for her second shutout of the season.
The game was scoreless for the first 13 minutes. Freshmen forward Kat Sweet brought the puck to the goal line, trickling through the crease, but was unable to score.
Less than a minute later, the line of Sweet, Corriero and junior Kalen Ingram faced off in the neutral zone. Ingram won the faceoff cleanly, sending the puck to Corriero, who deftly carried the puck into the zone and whipped a shot from just otuside the hash marks into the back of the net. It was Ingram’s 12th assist of the season.
The Crimson doubled their lead less than two minutes into the second period. Junior forward Tracy Caitlin took the puck in all by herself, swooped behind the net and found a wide open Lauren McCauliffe in front of the goal. The sophomore center made the most of the opportunity, banging home her seventh goal.
Harvard would not score again until 18:20 into the period. Freshmen defenseman Louise Chim sent a weak shot to the right of the net. Corriero picked up the rebound and pounded her second effort home.
The Crimson recieved a nice bonus in a fine performance by their third line of freshmen Ali Crum and Sarah Holbrook and sophomore Mina Pell.
The Pell finally tolled with barely three minutes remaining. The feisty 5’3 forward led a brilliant rush down the left side of the ice, sending a beautfiul centering pass to the incoming Crum. The 5’2 center poked the puck in before being tripped up and sliding headfirst into freshman B.C. goalie Lisa Davis.
“They worked real hard; they forechecked real well,” Stone said of her third line. “Their job is defense first... to score a goal is the cherry on the cake.”
Fifteen seconds later, Corriero completed her hat trick in the game’s most impressive effort. Davis deflected junior defenseman Pamela Van Reesema’s shot to the left of the goal. Corriero grabbed the rebound and seeing Davis grossly overplaying the right side, whisked around the net for a beautiful wrap-around goal.
Corriero’s vision and confidence with the puck drew a lofty comparsion from her coach.
“She’s Phil Esposito,” Stone said. “When’s she got the puck near the net, she’s gonna put it in the goal.”
Corriero, for her part, would not take much credit for her overwhelming performance so far this season.
“When you’re training five days a week, lifting, practicing the way Coach makes you practice, you have no choice but to improve,” Corriero said. “If you don’t, you’re doing something wrong.”
The Thornhill, Ont. native, who just turned 18 this semester, is the ECAC’s leading scorer. She and Dartmouth junior Carly Haggard are tied with 19 points a piece a top the ECAC Northern division.
Overall, the team looked sharp heading into this weekend’s matchup with Northeastern and Niagara.
“Northeastern and Niagara will be more physical,” Stone said. “They’re tougher... but we’re buzzing.”