The No. 1 Harvard women’s hockey team found itself in an unusual position early in last night’s Beanpot semifinal match-up – it was playing from behind.
Northeastern’s game-opening goal, coming just 42 seconds into play, was the result of a team penalty called on the Crimson before the game began. Harvard was called for a protocol violation after they were late coming out of the locker room to begin the game.
While Kate Buesser sat in the penalty box, a shot off the stick of Huskies sophomore Lindsey Berman skipped between Crimson goaltender Christina Kessler’s legs and into the net.
“I guess we weren’t out on time, that’s what I was told,” head coach Katey Stone said. “We tried to kill the penalty and I think if there hadn’t been a mogul in front of the net we would have.”
Northeastern is just the fourth team this season to score first on Harvard. The Huskies’ power play goal also broke the Crimson’s streak of 20 penalties killed successfully.
UP AGAINST A WALL
Northeastern freshman goalie Leah Sulyma’s 47-save performance brought back memories of Harvard’s triple-overtime loss to Boston College in the Beanpot’s opening round last year. In that epic game, Eagles goalie Molly Schaus, then a freshman herself, made 73 saves in the longest game in NCAA women’s hockey history.
It was Anna McDonald, now a sophomore for the Crimson, who scored the game-winning goal after more than 114 minutes of play.
Though Harvard was able to come away with the victory last night, Sulyma left the offense stumped for most of the evening. The Huskies goaltender tied her career high in saves last night, and she is averaging nearly 30 saves per game this season.
“We heard they had a good goaltender coming in,” junior forward Jenny Brine said. “She played us tough all game, put the rebounds in the corner. We had tons of good chances, we just hit a lot of posts tonight, but we stayed resilient.”
The Crimson was able to counter with Kessler, who leads the league in save percentage (.960) and goals-against average (0.84). Kessler made 18 saves in the winning effort and shut Northeastern out for the last 59 minutes of the game.
Last night marked the return of forward Liza Ryabkina to Harvard’s special teams units, as the freshman saw time on both the power play and the penalty kill.
“We were just trying to generate a little energy off our power play,” Stone said.
Ryabkina has been on an offensive hot streak as of late. She had scored three consecutive game-winning goals leading up to last night’s game, and was named ECAC Rookie of the Week last week.
Ryabkina’s assist on Brine’s first-period power play goal, gave her a point in each of the last four games.
“I think sometimes what happens with young kids [is that] you put them in a situation they’re not ready for, you take them out, you put them back in, and all of a sudden they have a little bit more confidence because they’ve seen more play,” Stone said.
Stone also made a line switch in the third period, bringing Ryabkina up to the first line to play with Brine and junior Sarah Vaillancourt. Freshman Katharine Chute played out the game on a line with McDonald and junior Sarah Wilson.
“We were able to generate a lot of good chances that way too,” Stone said.
With her second-period tally, Brine briefly tied classmate Sarah Vaillancourt as the team leader in goals scored with 12. But, in the final period Vaillancourt added the insurance goal and reclaimed the lead… Brine’s two goals make her the fifth Harvard player to record a multi-goal game this season… The first group of inductees to the Women’s Beanpot Hall of Fame was announced between last night’s semifinal games. The Crimson was represented by Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03, the only three-time Beanpot Tournament MVP, taking home the honor in 2000, 2001 and 2003, and a two-time Patty Kazmaier Award winner.
—Staff writer Kathryn Lesit can be reached at email@example.com.