BOSTON, Mass.—Though the Harvard women’s hockey team entered last night’s Beanpot opener the underdog, a “Cat ” trick proved too much for the Northeastern Huskies. In the Crimson’s most exciting game this season, junior forward Tracy Catlin and freshmen forward Kat Sweet combined for three goals and sophomore forward Lauren McAuliffe netted the overtime winner as Harvard defeated No. 2 Northeastern, 4-3.
It was the Crimson’s fourth straight overtime Beanpot win over Northeastern and revenge for its 3-1 loss to the Huskies ealier this season.
While current Canadian Olympian Jennifer Botterill ’01-03 beat Northeastern with game-winning goals the past three Beanpots, this time it was McAuliffe who took on the hero’s role.
Ironically, freshman forward Nicole Corriero set up the goal that ended her 10-game goal-scoring streak. Ten minutes into overtime, Corriero skated to the right of the goal and sent the puck to McAuliffe, who lifted the puck past Husky goaltender Chanda Gunn for the deciding goal.
“I was in the right spot,” McAuliffe said. “Nicole was working so hard for that puck…[she] put it so perfectly, I didn’t have to do much work.”
The overtime goal capped the Crimson’s most entertaining win of the year. The first period featured terrific back-and-forth action with both Gunn and Harvard senior goaltender Alison Kuusisto in top form.
Though Harvard did not appear overmatched against the favored Northeastern squad, mistakes in its own zone continued to plague the Crimson.
With 15 seconds left in the first period, Corriero turned the puck over at her own blue line. Northeastern took advantage when defender Kim Greene’s shot deflected off junior forward Michelle Lorion’s skate and by Kuusisto for a goal with 9 seconds remaining in the period, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.
Harvard was getting good chances both in the first and early in the second period, but it wasn’t able to convert on rebounds. In fact, the Crimson would not need a single rebound as all four of its goals were worthy of the highlight reels.
Catlin’s finest performance to date began early in the second period. Sweet set up the play with a perfect pass from to Catlin in front, who beat Gunn low to the left with a wicked wrister.
“I personally was really pissed after [Northeastern’s]goal,” Catlin said. “All of us just really wanted to get back.”
The Huskies scored midway thtough the second period on a fluky goal. Junior Brooke White scampered behind the net, came to Kuusisto’s left and somehow bounced the puck off Kuusisto and in.
Once again, the Crimson came back with a far more impressive display. It began with Harvard on a four-on-three power play and ended with the Crimson having a five-on-four advantage.
Sweet, at 5’3, is one of those players you might notice coming onto the ice until it’s too late. Maybe Husky defenders didn’t know that she had returned to the ice after serving a penalty. Yet there was Sweet, only six seconds free from her rinkside prison, bolting to the left side of the crease. She tipped the puck in to the wide open net before taking the goal off its moorings.
“I was just a little upset they put me in the box to begin with so I had to get right back at them,” Sweet said.
Midway through the third period with the score tied at two, both teams appeared about even. The Huskies then did their best to dispel that idea. Harvard looked completely out of sorts as the puck never seemed to leave its zone. Northeastern moved the puck brilliantly as the Crimson defense reeled. Somehow, Kuusisto survived the onslaught for several minutes.
Yet at 13:10 of the period, Hagerman took a costly penalty. The Huskies, who had appeared to be on the powerplay even with the teams at even strength, took full advantage with White’s second goal of the game.
Hagerman got a chance to redeem herself a few minutes later on Harvard’s own power play. After receiving a pass from junior defenseman Pamela Van Reesema, she whipped a pass across the neutral zone to Catlin who skated in with one defender to beat. Instead of opting for the deke, Catlin angled to the right of the defender and fired a perfect wrist shot, beating Gunn top shelf to tie the game.
“I’ve never wanted anything as much as to win this game,” Catlin said.
“I think she’s the fastest player in the league,” Harvard Coach Katey Stone said. “She’s a sniper.”
Harvard’s snipers had the edge in scoring chances, outshooting Northeastern 8-0 in the extra frame. Overall, the Crimson outshot the Huskies 42-28.
“The great thing about the game tonight is that it gives [the team] great confidence to go on further,” Stone said.
Harvard returns to ECAC action this weekend as it travels to No. 5 Dartmouth and Vermont. The Crimson will play Boston College on Tuesday in the Beanpot final.