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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass.—The Harvard women’s hockey team has become accustomed to collecting wins in the Beanpot semifinals—in fact, it’s done so in the last four seasons. But no previous win was quite like this one.
After a furious comeback left the game tied after 65 minutes of play, the Crimson was in uncharted territory. For the first time in the career of everyone on the current Harvard roster, the game would be decided by a shootout.
And three Crimson sophomores ensured that their first foray into a sudden-death shootout would be a positive one.
Forward Jillian Dempsey led off with a goal, defenseman Josephine Pucci broke a 1-1 stalemate with a score in the fourth round, and goaltender Laura Bellamy sealed the win by stumping three of the four Northeastern shooters.
“We work on breakaways a couple times a week, so we had some good options,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “We knew that Dempsey was probably going to get the job done right off the bat. A lot of good choices, but to be honest, I was just really happy for Laura Bellamy, because she played that pressure situation with tremendous composure.”
The Crimson picked up the win over a team with much more shootout experience. The Huskies play in Hockey East, which used shootouts in regular-season games for the last two seasons, and Northeastern advanced to the Beanpot final last year with a shootout win of its own over Boston University.
“It’s a tough thing, but in a tournament like this, somebody’s going to be the winner or loser,” Huskies coach Dave Flint said. “We don’t want to be here until midnight trying to play a game and figure out who’s going to win.”
Although Harvard’s shootout win means it will advance to next week’s championship, the game will officially count as a tie in each team’s regular season record.
SAVED BY THE BELL
The 2010 Beanpot served as a first chance on a big stage for Bellamy, who had just assumed the starting job in net after then-senior Christina Kessler’s season was prematurely ended by injury.
Bellamy recorded a pair of clean sheets in that tournament, backstopping her team to a Beanpot championship and earning herself the Bertagna Award—given to the tournament’s best goaltender—in the process.
But less than 10 minutes into yersterday’s game, Bellamy’s scoreless Beanpot streak came to a screeching halt when the first of two quick Northeastern goals hit the back of the net.
By the midpoint of the second period, the Huskies boasted a 3-0 lead, and Bellamy’s quest for a second Bertagna title was in serious jeopardy.
Aided by her defense, which held Northeastern to just six shots in the last 45 minutes of the game, Bellamy did enough to keep her team in the game—and when the pressure was on in the sudden-death shootout, she delivered.
“They call goalies weird for a reason—I mean, I loved it,” Bellamy said after the game. “When the buzzer went off in overtime, I was very excited. I felt like I owed my team something for the comeback they had.”
WE’RE GOING TO THE ‘SHIP
Harvard’s six seniors have never experienced anything but Beanpot championship games, and last night’s shootout win ensures that they will end their careers with at least another runner-up finish.
The Crimson has won two out of the last three titles, topping the Huskies, 1-0, in last year’s final., and will have the chance to defend next week against Boston College.
“The Beanpot means a tremendous amount to those of us over at Harvard,” Stone said, “and it would have been very disappointing had we not made it to the final.”
That pride contributed to the Crimson’s sense of urgency as it scored twice in the game’s final five minutes to force overtime.
“In the locker room, definitely after the second period, you just look around at the seniors, and you just want [it] so bad,” senior Ashley Wheeler said. “We’re playing for every single person on that team...but definitely as a senior class, we really wanted this one.”
Harvard’s seniors did their part in regulation, playing a part in each of the team’s three goals, before the sophomores took care of business in the shootout.
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at email@example.com.
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