NOTEBOOK: Vaillancourt Sparks Offense in Beanpot Opener

KESS' OF DEATH
Raquel Rodriguez

Junior goalie Christina Kessler notched 17 saves in the 8-0 shutout of Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament. On the night, two skaters—tri-captains Sarah Vaillancourt and Jenny Brine—recorded hat tricks and the first line for the

Harvard went above and beyond in securing a spot in the Beanpot final.

The Crimson offense was particularly in top form in the first round of the tournament. It was fast, fierce and hungry for goals, earning an 8-0 victory over Boston University.

“Well certainly it’s nice to see all of our lines clicking and [the] defense play with a lot of confidence, and our goaltender play with a lot of confidence,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “It’s a great time to be playing some serious, fast hockey and that’s what we did tonight and that’s why we were able to take advantage of the situation from the beginning, right off the bat, all the way to the end.”

Tri-captain Sarah Vaillancourt scored three goals on the night, her second hat trick in four games, and had a hand in four of the other goals.

The first time she worked her magic was on the second goal of the night, at 7:32 into the first period. Vaillancourt single-handedly snagged the puck on a shorthanded play, drove it down the rink and made a shot straight over the goalie’s shoulder.

“I think it was just one of those plays where you think at first that you are going to dump the puck and then you see a full ice in front of you so you think you have to go and try for it,” Vaillancourt said. “My coaches have been telling me all season to shoot through a screen and I finally did… and it worked!”

Vaillancourt’s second goal of the night came in a flash, just 18 seconds into the third period. Assisted by senior Kati Vaughn, the tally was scored on the last leg of a power play.

Vaillancourt earned her seventh point after scoring the eighth and final goal of the night. While this may seem like a grand feat, this is not unprecedented for Vaillancourt, who has a career high of eight points in one game.

HAPPY AND HEALTHY

The Crimson has been plagued by injury throughout the season, but thanks to a long, hard exam period all team members are good to go.

While some practical adjustments have been made, the team’s success of late has largely been a product of its return to full health.

“We made a few changes…but we are also finally healthy,” Stone said. “[You] can’t underestimate the value of having everybody healthy. And so everybody is back in the lineup.

“We just had exams, and that was physically [and] emotionally taxing,” she added. “[But] we were able to rest a little bit while other teams were banging each other up.

BEANPOT MEANS A LOT

Harvard’s win moves the team into the final round of the tournament, in which the Crimson will take on Boston College in its quest for a 13th Beanpot title.

“It means a lot to us,” Stone said. “It’s certainly the pride of Boston to win the Beanpot, but it’s also a great experience for your athletes to compete for a championship before the end of the regular season.”

With Harvard battling for both supremacy in its conference and a spot in the national rankings, the Beanpot gives the team a chance to play in a high-pressure environment before the playoffs even begin.

“It’s tough, it’s mid-week, we’re shopping classes all day and people come to the rink a little tired,” tri-captain Jenny Brine said. “But [we need to] really focus in and realize what we have at stake here, a championship in mid-February, which is a big deal.”

Brine, a seasoned veteran of the Boston hockey scene, knows the significance of participating in this historic tournament, and she and her classmates have made sure that the rest of the Crimson squad understands as well.

“I think definitely the senior class knows the importance of the Beanpot, the history of it with Harvard hockey,” Brine said. “I think it’s our job as seniors to especially let our freshmen know how much of a big deal this really is for us.”

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