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Crimson Lines Set In Stone

By David R. De remer, Crimson Staff Writer

For most of the season, when Harvard coach Katey Stone was asked whether she was set on her lines, she would respond by saying that there was still more tweaking to be done and more healthy internal rivalry to come. On Friday, following the first ECAC quarterfinal game against Cornell, she finally announced that there would be no more tweaking.

After using junior Lauren McAuliffe on the first line with captain Jennifer Botterill and freshman Julie Chu for 13 consecutive games, Stone decided to put senior Tracy Catlin on the first line and move McAuliffe back to the second line with captain Kalen Ingram and sophomore Nicole Corriero.

Stone has also decided to play freshman Jaclyn Pitushka regularly on the third line along with freshmen Jennifer Raimondi and Carrie Schroyer.

“That’s what we’re sticking with,” Stone said. “I like the way everybody’s playing right now. They’re keeping it simple.”

Stone started experimenting with the new lines at Colgate last week.

“Some might say it’s late in the game to change the lines,” Stone said. “I think it sparked a lot of energy for us.”

McAuliffe, Ingram and Corriero had been linemates for the first two games of the season and for the first three games in January after Ingram returned from a thumb injury. Catlin had only played about a half-game with Botterill and Chu, splitting time with sophomore Kat Sweet on the first line against Wayne State in January. Both Sweet and Catlin played on the first line when Botterill was absent for a Canadian national team camp the following weekend. After exam break, Stone gave the first line spot to McAuliffe.

In Harvard’s 13-1 win over Cornell on Friday, McAuliffe had no trouble fitting back into the second line, finishing a one-timer from Ingram with precision. Catlin tallied four assists in her new role.

“I think [McAuliffe’s] back at home and makes things happen,” Stone said. “We can use her anywhere we need to in any situation, which is great.”

On Saturday, however, neither McAuliffe nor Catlin figured in any scoring. During McAuliffe’s 13 games with the first line, she scored 10 goals. McAuliffe never went consecutive games without scoring a goal, like Catlin did this weekend.

Stone is confident her decision is best for her team for the remainder of the ECAC tournament and the NCAA Frozen Four.

“Tracy’s got real good speed,” Stone said. “She’s a big strong kid. She gets the job done. She goes into the corner hard to fish the puck out. She complements [Chu and Botterill] real well. Tracy’s been earning her stripes all year. It’s just a feel situation with a lot of speed and good energy there, so we’re going to run with it and see what happens.”

Bumps and Bruises

Harvard sophomore defenseman Ashley Banfield sat out the weekend with what Stone described as a charley horse suffered against Colgate. Stone characterized the move as more precautionary than necessary and affirmed that Banfield would be ready for the ECAC championships next weekend.

No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 3 Minnesota, two of the four likely teams in the Frozen Four, each have almost a two-week hiatus before the tournament starts. The break is especially welcome for Minnesota, which is hoping for the return of Olympic silver medalist Krissy Wendell from a broken collarbone.

Harvard, if it reaches the ECAC final and the Frozen Four, will have only five days to rest between the two tournaments. But Stone prefers that arrangement.

“I like the fact that you are playing every weekend,” Stone said. “Some people might feel differently if they have injuries and want to rest their kids. Our kids are in great condition. They could play three days a week if they had to.”

Bear Trap

The results of this weekend’s ECAC quarterfinals set up the first All-Ivy semifinal round in ECAC history. Brown will play Harvard and Princeton will play Dartmouth.

“I’m proud of the fact there are a couple of Ivy schools at the top of this ECAC league,” Stone said. “If we can continue to compete with the scholarship schools, we must be doing something right.”

Princeton and Dartmouth each swept quarterfinal series in which they were heavily favored. Brown came back from a game down to win its three-game series, eliminating No. 6 St. Lawrence.

While Harvard players said they had no preference as to who won the St. Lawrence-Brown series, the Bears’ victory does offer several advantages.

Since Brown’s Meehan Auditorium is the host site for the ECAC championships, the Bears’ quarterfinal victory is bound to boost attendance, which will increase exposure for the sport.

Brown’s victory over St. Lawrence guaranteed that the Bears would avoid a sub-.500 finish. Since Harvard has two victories over Brown and one NCAA seeding criterion is record against teams at or above .500, Brown’s victory might help Harvard earn a No. 1 seed in the Frozen Four. In fact, if the selection committee uses records as the only proxy for the stated selection criteria—a method used by the USCHO.com Pairwise Rankings that has yet to be contradicted in men’s or women’s hockey—then Brown’s victory actually clinched the top seed for Harvard.

The Bears’ victory will also give the Crimson the experience of playing in front of a hostile crowd that could number over 2,000, judging by past ECAC championship attendance figures. Harvard will have to experience a similarly unfriendly crowd if it has to face Duluth on the Bulldogs’ home ice for the NCAA title. But the Crimson players have said in the past that hostile fans do not bother them.

“I think there’s a great atmosphere going into the playoffs,” Stone said. “It’s time to go take over somebody else’s barn.”

In the next two weekends, there are two barns to be taken over, but the Crimson will try to focus on taking them one barn at a time.

—Staff writer David R. De Remer can be reached at remer@fas.harvard.edu.

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