Shooting for No. 1: No. 2 W. Hockey sweeps No. 4 St. Lawrence

Un-Boe-lievable
Jessica E. Schumer

Sophomore netminder Ali Boe allowed just one goal on 26 shots in Harvard

After eking out a grueling victory in overtime the night before, the Harvard women’s hockey team made beating the Saints 5-1 look sinfully easy Saturday afternoon.

The No. 2 Crimson (22-2-1, 12-2-0 ECAC) played aggressively and scored two first-period goals—both due to the stick work of junior forward Nicole Corriero—and had No. 4 St. Lawrence (20-7-1, 11-3-0 ECAC) on the defensive for almost the entire game.

The offensive dominance led Harvard to its first season sweep of the Saints since the Crimson won the national championship in 1999.

It was Corriero’s hat trick and incredible assist to co-captain Lauren McAuliffe that enabled the Harvard offense to run as smooth as it has all season. Five minutes into the game, Corriero took the puck from her own blue line and skated straight towards the goal, picking up a few St. Lawrence players on the way.

“I had a couple of players on my back and I was just trying to drive to the net as hard as possible,” Corriero said. 

With only ice between her and All-American netminder Rachel Barrie after she shook off the Saints’ defense, Corriero faked her forehand and pulled back across Barrie’s body for a wide open backhand shot and the Crimson’s first goal of the night.

Later in the period, Corriero continued to impress the crowd of almost 500 with her assist on the second Harvard goal. Charging towards the goal on a power play, Corriero fell and made one last dive for the puck.

“I was just trying to swat it and then, like an angel descending, I see [McAuliffe] coming and put it in,” said Corriero.

The goal—which came on the powerplay—was the first that the St. Lawrence penalty kill unit had given up in the last 190 minutes it had been on the ice, including killing man-down situations against Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale.

Two goals were more than the Crimson would need on a night in which sophomore Ali Boe and the Crimson defense were on top of their game. The defense, led by co-captain Angela Ruggiero, suffocated the Saints’ highly-touted first line—which includes Canadian National Team member Gina Kingsbury and had scored 41 goals on the season. In the final few minutes of play, Harvard put an emphatic stamp on the night when Ruggiero was called for a five-minute misconduct penalty for checking Kingsbury from behind. As Ruggiero left the ice and headed into the tunnel early because of the penalty, the fans in attendance rose to their feet and applauded the team’s leader for her efforts over the last two nights—including her goal which gave the Crimson the victory the night before.

Boe stopped St. Lawrence on all but one of its quality chances.

The Saints were finally able to step up the pressure on Boe in the third period, leading to their sole goal of the night—Crystal Connors’ tally off a deflection on a powerplay.

From the outset at the other end, however, Boe’s counterpart seemed off of her game. At one point near the end of the first period, Barrie even reacted with a long glare in response to the Harvard University Band’s chants of “It’s all your fault.”

The Crimson’s increased energy and focus were both apparent to Harvard coach Katie Stone.

“Yesterday it took 62 [minutes] to win,” Stone said. “We were ready and energized today. We came out flying.”

Corriero felt the difference from yesterday’s overtime win and showed it on paper with her hat trick and assist.

“Yesterday we started the game off kind of jittery, kind of uptight,” Corriero said. “We realized how important [Friday’s] game was and it showed in how we were playing because we were tense. After we won last night, we knew we could beat these guys.”

Harvard also focused on continuing the third period success from Friday night in breaking St. Lawrence’s stifling forecheck.

“We made better key passes,” Stone said. “We moved, took ice really quickly, our wings came back with an eagerness to be supported much more today than yesterday.”

Down the line, these two teams may meet again in a more intense situation in the ECAC or NCAA playoffs.

“This is a team we got to beat eventually if we want to win a championship,” Saints coach Paul Flanagan said. “A lot of it is just a lot of mental mistakes, we’ve been getting away with some mistakes the last few weeks. When you make those kinds of mistakes against a team like this, you pay for it.”

The Crimson continues in ECAC action on the road this weekend. Harvard first travels to Dartmouth—who handed the Crimson its first of two losses this season—Friday at 7 p.m. The team faces off against Vermont Saturday at 4 p.m.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at gmvelez@fas.harvard.edu.

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