The Harvard women’s ice hockey team will just have to wait another year.
Two straight years of missing the Beanpot finals turned to three on Tuesday at the Conte Forum as the No. 3/5 Crimson (17-3-3, 13-2-2 ECAC) fell to Northeastern (14-12-2, 8-6-2 Hockey East). Despite a late rally by Harvard’s offense, a third period comeback effort fell short, and the Huskies took the matchup, 4-3.
The Crimson had not faced Northeastern in the Beanpot Tournament since defeating the crosstown rivals with a shootout in Feb. 2011, the last time Harvard proved victorious in the first round. The Crimson did, however, face the Huskies earlier this season in a 3-2 win on Jan. 4.
With just over a minute on the clock, interim Crimson head coach Maura Crowell pulled freshman goaltender Brianna Laing and launched a last-ditch effort to tie the game with 6-on-5 play.
Laing, who has played in just six games this season, split time between the pipes with sophomore Emerance Maschmeyer to notch eight saves and allow one goal. Maschmeyer, fourth in the ECAC for goals-against average, was benched five minutes into the second period after letting in three scores by Northeastern.
“[Laing has] played some big games for us and has been tremendous,” Crowell said. “I think both of our goalies are very good. We have all sorts of confidence in her ability. Emerance just wasn’t on. The goals that went in [were] not 100 percent her fault, but you can tell when a goalie is on and off. We wanted a change, and when you change goalies, it’s a momentum shift for your players too.”
The loss marked just the third time this season that Maschmeyer has let in more than two goals in a game.
The first period saw the Huskies take advantage of a Crimson squad sluggish in its own zone. Northeastern second-liners Kelly Wallace and Colleen Murphy both capitalized on open looks to bypass Maschmeyer and connect with the back of the net. Murphy put the Huskies on the board 6:41 into the first period and Wallace followed up with the goal of her own just six minutes later.
Harvard finally found an offensive break as sophomore forward Mary Parker took a handoff from sister Elizabeth, a senior forward, to drive the puck down the ice past the right side of Northeastern goaltender Chloe Desjardins.
Parker struck again in the third period to cut the Huskies’ lead to two, 4-2, and inserting herself into the rankings as the second leading scorer on the team.
“I have just been working really hard,” Parker said. “[I’ve been] trying to do anything I can to also help my team out throughout the ice and also drive hard to the net and be there when the puck’s there.”
After slow first and second periods, the Crimson offense came alive again. Five minutes after Parker’s score, junior center Samantha Reber penetrated Northeastern’s defenders to take an assist off teammates Briana Mastel and Miye D’Oench to slip a goal in past the crease and Desjardins.
And so, down just 4-3 with minutes melting off the scoreboard, Harvard emptied the net for a final try at the tie. It was too little too late for the Crimson, as right wings D’Oench and Sydney Daniels, as well as defenders Sarah Edney and co-captain Marissa Gedman, each launched attempts that were saved by Desjardins.
Desjardins finished the game with 27 saves and Maschmeyer and Laing combined for 18. While the Huskies took an edge in shots–11 to Harvard’s eight–during the first period, the Crimson outshot their opponents 22-11 during the remaining frames. Parker, Reber, and Daniels led the offensive surge for their squad with four shots apiece. Northeastern senior forward Brittany Esposito led all players with seven shots, none of which materialized as goals, but proved a threat from the left circle.
Despite speedy skating by the Harvard icewomen, it was a sleepy start to a Tuesday afternoon game that took the Crimson down.
“I do feel like early games for Harvard kids on Tuesdays are a little tough,” Crowell said. “I know several of them were running straight from class to get on the bus. I don’t know if it was a focus thing. It clearly took us a period-and-a-half to warm up. [But] again, no excuses. We come ready to play, no matter what time the game starts.”
The team returned to action just three days after a weekend on the road with two ECAC contests and will rest for only two before heading up to Hanover to face Dartmouth on Friday.
While this loss does not count towards Harvard’s league record, with just over a month until the ECAC Tournament, every game on out counts. Harvard tops the conference standings with 28 points, but second-place Clarkson breathes on the Crimson’s neck with 26 points, and Cornell is just a one point below in third.
“Every [game] counts,” Crowell said, “We just need to come ready to play for 60 minutes. I told these guys after the game, when they play well, they play so well. I do think they’re a fantastic team. I think if we can show that for a full 60 minutes, it’s going to be a fantastic finish for us.”
—Staff writer Cordelia F. Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonCordelia.
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