BOSTON, Mass.—With Boston-area bragging rights and the chance to play for a midseason title on the line, the first-round Beanpot matchup between the No. 7/8 Harvard women’s hockey team and crosstown rival Boston University was expected to be a physical one. But the 5-2 Terrier victory Tuesday night at Walter Brown Arena surpassed even conventional rivalry standards.
In the first period alone, the two teams combined for six penalties—three on each side—including three body-checking violations. After the first 20 minutes, the Crimson (14-7-1, 11-4-1 ECAC) settled down physically, while the Terriers (15-12-1, 9-7-0 WHEA) continued to amass trips to the box, ending the game with a grand total of 11 penalties as a team, led by Kathryn Miller’s four.
“The biggest thing [for us Tuesday night] was our penalty kill,” BU coach Brian Derochers said. “We put pressure on them, and it probably demoralized them a little bit.”
BU netted two goals in the first period, forcing Harvard to start the second in a deep hole. Perhaps not surprisingly, the power play figured prominently in the game.
Terriers senior Jill Cardella put away the first goal of the game at 6:30 in the first, stealing the puck on a Crimson power play and giving her team an early lead with the short-handed goal. At 12:36, BU struck again after three Harvard penalties in fewer than two minutes gave the Terriers a two-man advantage.
The Crimson eventually capitalized on BU’s physical miscues at 11:34 in the third, with freshman defenseman Sarah Edney netting the first of two Harvard goals on a two-man advantage. Junior forward Jillian Dempsey followed suit at 15:09 to pull the Crimson within three. But it was too late for Harvard to stage a comeback.
SECOND BUT DEADLY
Although the Terriers outshot the Crimson by an impressive 19-4 margin in the first period, the game was won during the second. Harvard attempted 27 shots in the middle frame, but 13 of those shots were blocked by the BU defense. And of the 14 that made it through, only nine found the face of the goal.
“Everyone just put their body in front of the puck,” BU forward Jenn Wakefield said. “We tried to minimize their [opportunities] and hopefully not get pucks through so there would be no chance for a tip or a rebound.”
The Terriers, on the other hand, placed eight of their 13 shots on net, with the Crimson tallying just one block in the period. Three shots made it past Harvard junior goaltender Laura Bellamy—who tallied 33 saves on the night—during the middle frame, giving BU a commanding five-goal edge going into the third.
“I thought our [team defense] was great,” Derocher said. “The power plays started to add up. We had six over two periods, and that meant we were keeping pucks away from the net and we were clearing pucks. Overall, it was pretty darn good, but you can’t keep playing this game five against four.”
The Crimson regained the momentum from the BU offense in the final period, placing 14 shots on target and outscoring the Terriers, 2-0.
This year’s Beanpot boasts one of the strongest fields in tournament history, featuring three teams currently ranked in the top-10 nationally.
“The great thing about the Beanpot now is that all four teams are pretty darn good,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “[BC is] in the national rankings, so we have an opportunity to compete against a nationally ranked team [in the consolation round].”
Although BU entered its first Beanpot matchup as the only one of the four Boston-area schools without a national ranking, the Terriers saw time on the list—as high up as the No. 2 spot—earlier this season. And in its last three games, BU has taken down all three other Beanpot competitors, notching wins against BC and Northeastern last weekend.
“[BU] will be [nationally ranked] next week,” Stone said. “This place has evolved to a point where this is an awfully competitive tournament.”
The game between the Crimson and the Terriers was not the only upset of the day. Minutes before the Harvard game began, No. 6/7 Northeastern defeated No. 4 Boston College in overtime, pitting the two teams with lower national rankings against each other in the finals.
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.