Five-OT Thriller Decides ECAC Playoff Series

Published by Kate Leist on March 01, 2010 at 10:10PM

The No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team’s road to the ECAC tournament semifinals was smooth. 5-1 and 4-1 trouncings of Princeton gave the third-seeded Crimson a spot in the conference final four.

Rensselaer, on the other hand, did not have such an easy time of it.

The best-of-three series between fourth-seeded Quinnipiac and the fifth-seeded Engineers will go down as one of the most dramatic in ECAC history.

Friday night’s Game 1 got interesting when Bobcat Kallie Flor scored with just over five minutes to play in the game to tie the score at one. 8:46 into double overtime, her teammate Chelsea Illchuk lit the lamp to give Quinnipiac a 2-1 victory.

Though Saturday’s Game 2 was decided in regulation, it was just as tight a contest—Rensselaer came away with a 1-0 win on the strength of an Alisa Harrison power-play tally.

But none of that compared to the drama of Game 3.

With their seasons on the line—the winner promised a place in the conference semis, and the loser sent home—each squad left everything on the ice.

Regulation ended, again, with the score knotted at one after a late-game Quinnipiac tally. Overtime after overtime passed with nothing to add to the score sheet except more saves for the Engineers’ Sonja van der Bliek and the Bobcats’ Victoria Vigilanti.

And finally, in the fifth overtime, Rensselaer captain Laura Gersten put an end to things.

The senior took a pass from Whitney Naslund and put the puck just over Vigilanti’s glove—a shot that hit the crossbar and dropped straight down, causing a deliberation amongst the officials, who eventually ruled it a goal.

Van der Bliek finished with 49 saves while Vigilanti recorded 57. It was the longest NCAA-sponsored women’s hockey game in history at 145 minutes, just 1:03 shy of breaking the record set by the 1996 ECAC Championship game between New Hampshire and Providence.

Now the Engineers—led by Gersten, who also scored the overtime game-winner in last year’s ECAC semifinal, when Rensselaer upset top-seeded Harvard, 3-2—advance to play No. 1 seed Cornell in Friday’s semifinal matchup, while Quinnipiac heads home heartbroken.

The Crimson will travel to Potsdam, N.Y. on Friday to take on second-seeded Clarkson. The semifinal winners will advance to Sunday’s championship game, which will be hosted by the highest-remaining seed.

Women's Hockey Alum Chosen To Represent Olympians

Published by Christina C. Mcclintock on February 26, 2010 at 10:10PM

Among casual sports fans, her name may not earn the immediate recognition of Bode Miller, Apolo Anton Ohno, or Lindsey Vonn, but when it came to selecting a representative, Olympic athletes chose Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04 of the US women’s hockey team, currently competing for a gold medal as I write.

Ruggiero was selected to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, which represents the concerns of athletes to the IOC.

The 2004 Patty Kazmaier Award winner, Ruggiero won gold with the team in 1998 in Nagano before taking silver with the team in Salt Lake City and bronze in Turin.

When interviewed by NBC after the first period, Ruggiero said she was “thrilled” to be selected to the 19-person committee. Ruggiero was selected for an eight-year term along with bobsledder Adam Pengilly of Great Britain.

The selection will allow Ruggiero to express the views of athletes in Olympic planning. But it won’t help her against Canada, which currently has a two-goal lead in the gold-medal game.

Three Players Selected for All-ECAC Teams

Published by Kate Leist on February 25, 2010 at 10:10PM

Three members of the No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team were honored on All-ECAC teams, the league office announced this afternoon.

Junior forward Kate Buesser, junior defenseman Leanna Coskren, and freshman forward Jillian Dempsey all earned recognition for their efforts in conference play this season.

Buesser headlines the group, as she earned a spot on the conference first team. The winger was second in the league in scoring, tallying 32 points in 22 ECAC games. Buesser leads the Crimson with 35 total points this season on 13 goals and 22 assists, and she is tops in the conference with a +22 rating for the season. The junior was named a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award last week.

Coskren, a third-team selection, is also a Kazmaier finalist. The blueliner has 17 points on the season, including six goals. She is 18th in the nation amongst defenseman with 0.59 points per contest and anchors Harvard’s third-ranked defense.

Dempsey earned a spot on the conference’s All-Rookie squad after a season in which she ranked eighth nationally among freshmen with 0.79 points per game. Dempsey is second on the Crimson with 23 points this season on 10 goals and 13 assists.

In additional news from the ECAC office, senior Randi Griffin, the reigning conference player of the week, is a nominee for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year award. Griffin scored four goals over the weekend, including her first career hat trick.

Harvard earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, which begins this weekend. The Crimson hosts sixth-seeded Princeton in a best-of-three series beginning Friday night. The puck drops at 7 pm at Bright Hockey Center.

High Admissions Standards Hold Back Wrestling Program

Published by Max N. Brondfield on February 25, 2010 at 10:10PM

If one theme has characterized recent Harvard wrestling history, it has been individual success overshadowed by constant injuries that stifle team performance. Watching grappler after grappler go down can undoubtedly be frustrating, but co-captain J.P. O’Connor vented his frustration at a different source over the weekend, suggesting that the problem may not be how many guys go down, but rather how few there are to replace them.

After finishing the dual season a disappointing 2-14-1 with lopsided losses to No. 6 Cornell (44-6) and Columbia (30-15) last Friday and Saturday, O’Connor reflected on the difficulty of keeping pace in the Ivy League.

“When you’re sending out guys who aren’t necessarily your No. 1 guy, it’s tough to be competitive,” O’Connor said. “It’s kind of been a trend since I’ve been here. We don’t have the depth that other schools have. We need a little more backing, by which I mean admissions backing, to be a competitive program in the dual season.”

O’Connor—not often one to mince words—did not hold back here in his implication that the Crimson wrestling team suffers from the school’s stringent standards. Of course, holding talented applicants to rigorous academic standards is nothing new at Harvard, and it goes without saying that Crimson athletics would improve with more relaxed admissions cutoffs. Still, O’Connor’s remarks serve as a reminder that often the small sports are hit hardest, when each rejected potential team member represents significant depth lost from the roster.

Nonetheless, O’Connor and co-captain Louis Caputo make the situation seem far from hopeless. Regardless of the impact that “admissions backing” has on the team’s performance, clearly two of its stars could compete for any wrestling program in the country. As O’Connor (157 lbs.) and Caputo (184) stand at No. 1 and No. 6 in their respective weight classes, Harvard can look forward to two legitimate runs at the national title in March.

Hockey Alumnae Square off for Gold

Published by Kate Leist on February 24, 2010 at 10:10PM

All five of Harvard’s 2010 Olympians will be playing for gold on Thursday.

Only two teams remain in contention for Vancouver’s top prize, and as predicted, the two-time defending world champion American squad will take on the favored Canadians in the gold-medal game.

As has become the norm in this Olympic tournament, Crimson alumnae featured prominently in both of yesterday’s semifinal wins.

In the early game, the US squad took on Sweden with revenge on its mind. The Swedes shocked the Americans in the 2006 Olympic semifinals, charging back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game in a shootout. It was the first time a US or Canadian squad had ever fallen to a non-North American opponent in international competition.

In 2010, the American women guaranteed that they would improve on their bronze-medal finish in Torino, routing Sweden, 9-1. With Swedish netminder Kim Martin, who plays for Minnesota-Duluth, not on her game, the door was open for the US offense—and the Americans capitalized.

Monique Lamoureux, who will suit up for the University of North Dakota next year, tallied a hat trick while all three Harvard players got in on the fun.

Caitlin Cahow ’07-’08 led the way with a goal—a long shot from the point that banked off the top right corner of the cage and fell in—and an assist. Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04 tallied the team’s third goal, while Julie Chu ’06-’07 assisted on Kelli Stack’s third-period score.

In the nightcap, the vaunted Canadian offense hit a bit of a roadblock: Finnish goaltender Noora Raty, who excelled in the crease for the University of Minnesota this season before joining her national team.

Raty held the Canadians to five goals on 50 shots, but Finland’s offense offered the standout no support, and the hometown favorites advanced to the final with a 5-0 win.

Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09 assisted on Haley Irwin’s goal, with the other assist credited to star Cornell forward Rebecca Johnston. Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03 was again quiet—the veteran has just one assist in these Olympics—but she will have the chance to earn her third-consecutive gold medal later this week.

The US and Canada will face off for Vancouver’s top prize at 6:30 pm EST on Thursday. The game will be broadcast live on MSNBC and