“You know, the hard part about today, win or lose, is that kids end their Harvard hockey career,” Stone said. “For me, I’m not going to get to see them play at practice again in a Harvard jersey. And they have meant so much to our program.
“And I know that everyone has seniors and everyone’s going to go through this at some point if they haven’t already,” she continued. “But the toughest thing for me at the end of a season is to know that it’s not the caliber of player, it’s the caliber of their character that I will miss most.
“Ang has extended her career as long as she could possibly get it to extend,” Stone said, trailing into a laugh as the sixth-year senior Ruggiero and the media joined her. “And I wish we could do it longer for Cully and for Mina as well. Because to me, ultimately, that’s the saddest part of today, that these kids won’t have an opportunity to be in a Harvard sweater again.”
Stone’s comments followed McAuliffe’s tearful reaction when Brown coach Digit Murphy, working as a correspondent for CSTV, asked McAuliffe how it felt to play in the defensive zone against Krissy Wendell and Natalie Dartwitz. Glancing down at the game’s stat sheet, McAuliffe shook her head “No,” then lost composure for a moment and held her head in her hand.
At the pre-championship game press conference the day before, McAuliffe noted her feelings as her Harvard hockey career drew to a close.
“I get pretty emotional,” she said. “My last practice at the Bright, I wouldn’t get off the ice. My parents were up in the stands waiting for me to get off the ice and I couldn’t do it. As soon as the game is over, and hopefully we’re celebrating, it’ll probably hit us that it is over.”
The celebrations never came, but while fighting back tears for most of the press conference, reality sunk in for both McAuliffe and Ruggiero.
With the World Championships days away, Ruggiero didn’t have much time to take in the loss and the end of her Harvard career. But at the press conference, the voice of the most consistent and reliable member of the Crimson faltered as she contemplated ending her college hockey career while moving on to represent the United States days later.
“It’s always an honor to wear the U.S. jersey. I love playing for team USA. I have for nine years now,” she said, laughing a bit at her longevity.
Her tone soon changed back as she recalled her final season. “But it’s sad not putting on the Harvard jersey,” she said with a sniffle. “This was a very special team this year, not just on the ice, I think more off the ice. We worked so well together throughout the season to get ourselves in this position. That’ll be one of the hardest things I think for me, not having those Harvard hockey teammates by my side on the ice.”
When asked if it will be better to play with Darwitz and Wendell than playing against them, Ruggiero responded, “I need a day or two.” A reporter joked, “Don’t like them quite yet?” to which she unflinchingly answered, “I still like them.”
The sequence drew a smile from Stone’s face as the entire room seemed to pause in order to take in Ruggiero’s continued poise.
IT’S BETTER THAN YOURS
After the 10 goals and nine assists Minnesota’s first line racked up during the Frozen Four weekend, one reporter asked Stone if she could think of a line that played so well together.
Wendell finished the year with 78 points, Darwitz, in limited action, finished with 64, as did line-mate Kelly Stephens—a total of 206 points for the entire line.