Four Women's Hockey Players Nominated for Kazmaier Award

Published by Kate Leist on February 18, 2010 at 10:10PM

Continuing a storied Harvard tradition, four women’s hockey players have been nominated for the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women’s hockey.

Senior Christina Kessler and juniors Kate Buesser, Liza Ryabkina, and Leanna Coskren are among 45 nominees for the award. The list of nominees was released by USA Hockey today.

Kessler, a goaltender, finished her career with the Crimson career wins and shutouts records, as well as the NCAA career save percentage record. The senior held a 9-3-3 record this season before her year was ended with an ACL injury in January, but she still ranks fifth nationally in save percentage (.944) and sixth in goals-against average (1.39).

Buesser, a forward, is Harvard’s leading scorer this season, tallying 33 points on 13 goals and 20 assists. She ranks second among ECAC players with 30 conference points, and stands 19th nationally with 1.22 points per game.

Ryabkina has been an offensive force since returning from a dislocated knee in late November, scoring 11 goals in 18 games. Five of those goals came in the Beanpot, and the winger was named tournament MVP for her efforts. Ryabkina’s four game-winning goals are good for eighth in the country.

Coskren’s 16 points are tops among Crimson defenders, and her 15 conference points are third-best among ECAC blueliners. The majority of Coskren’s offensive production has come on the power play, and she is tied for first in conference play with 10 power-play points. The junior also anchors Harvard’s defense, which ranks second nationally with 1.44 goals allowed per game.

The Kazmaier Award has gone to a Crimson player six times in its 12-year history. A.J. Mleczko ’97-’99, Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03, Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04, Julie Chu ’06-’07, and Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09 are Harvard’s previous winners, with Botterill taking the trophy twice.

The top 10 finalists for the award will be announced on March 2. The Kazmaier trophy will be presented on March 20 in Minneapolis, Minn. in conjunction with the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four.

Former Harvard Players Faring Well

Published by Kate Leist on February 17, 2010 at 10:10PM

As the Harvard women’s hockey team enters the final weekend of its regular season entangled in a tight race for postseason home-ice advantage, five of its alumnae are playing for a different kind of hockey prize.

The Olympic women’s hockey tournament opened on Saturday in Vancouver, and Americans Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04, Julie Chu ’06-’07, and Caitlin Cahow ’07-’08 and Canadians Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03 and Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09 are skating for Olympic gold.

The Americans and Canadians are far and away the top two teams in the world and are both heavily favored to advance to the gold-medal game—though as the US team learned in 2006, being favored is not enough, as the Americans were upset by Sweden in the semifinals and had to settle for bronze. But through three days of competition, both squads are living up to the hype.

Canada set the tone in front of its hometown crowd on Saturday with an 18-0 shellacking of Slovakia, the biggest offensive output in Olympic history. Vaillancourt had a goal and two assists against Slovakia and followed up that performance with a goal and an assist in a 10-1 win over Switzerland yesterday.

Botterill added an assist on the Canadians’ final goal in Saturday’s rout.

Not to be outdone, the Americans cruised to a 12-1 win over China on Sunday afternoon. Harvard players bookended the scoring for the US squad, with Ruggiero opening the game with a breakaway backhand early in the first before Chu capped the game with a tally off a rebound from American captain Natalie Darwitz.

Chu also had two assists on the afternoon.

The US team takes on Russia this afternoon at 5:30 pm Eastern time. Both the Canadians and the Americans still have their toughest preliminary matchup ahead of them—Canada plays Sweden tomorrow, and the US plays Finland on Thursday. Those four teams are favored to advance to the medal round.

Men's Lacrosse Primed for Success

Published by Colin Whelehan on February 17, 2010 at 10:10PM

If football season seems like it took place a decade ago, or if you can’t understand the multiple tie-breaker scenarios in men’s basketball, here’s something to get excited about: men’s lacrosse.

After four straight losing seasons from 2005-2008, Harvard coach John Tillman led his squad to an 8-5 overall record in 2009, including a signature win at No. 5 Duke in the season opener. While last year the Crimson may have had the fortune of flying under the radar, every squad will have its date with Harvard circled on this season's calendar. The Crimson is ranked No. 12 in Inside Lacrosse’s preseason poll, but it won’t catch any breaks throughout the season, as Ivy foes Cornell, Princeton, and Brown also broke the top 20. If you haven’t noticed yet, this is one of the only sports in which the Ivy League can lay claim to being the nation’s premier conference.

With the season opener just ten days away, look for Harvard to have a breakthrough offensive year to help its young defense and alleviate the loss of goalie Joe Pike. Sophomore attack Jeff Cohen was the Crimson’s leading scorer last season with 34 goals, good for seventh nationally in goals per game. Junior attack Dean Gibbons was right behind him with 21 goals, and the freshman duo of Jack Doyle and Peter Schwartz, part of a top-three national recruiting class, will be expected to make an impact early.

The Crimson will host Canisius in its season opener Saturday, February 27th, at Cumnock Turf.

Olympic Mishaps Don't Bode Well

Published by Madeleine Smith on February 15, 2010 at 10:10PM

Even with planning that began a decade ago, the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada have already had their fair share of mishaps before competition even began.

The first came early Friday, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a horrific crash during a training run at the Whistler Sliding Center. Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled and flew over the outer barrier, slamming into an unpadded metal pole. Attempts to revive the unconscious 21-year-old failed, and he was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a local hospital.

Kumaritashvili’s crash was one of the most horrible accidents in recent Olympic history, but it was not entirely unforeseen. Not only was a luger killed in the sport’s first introduction to the Olympic games in 1964, but concerns were also raised about the Whistler track in particular. In just two days, there were three separate crashes, including another where the athlete was airlifted from the track that many are calling too fast and too dangerous for competition.

Worries of another kind have arisen at more of Vancouver’s Olympic venues as well, especially the ski hills. Last week’s rain and relatively warm temperatures turned the Whistler runs into a collection of soggy slopes and have delayed women and men’s downhill races until no earlier than Monday.

Olympic officials have been working frantically to improve conditions to racing standards, even carting in snow to the site for freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Cypress Mountain.

Finally, as if Kumaritashvili’s tragedy and the dismal weather weren’t enough, the week was capped off by a noticeable blunder in Friday’s elaborate opening ceremony. Due to a mechanical failure, one of the four colossal architectural pillars failed to rise during the climactic lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

All that the Olympians and officials can hope for now is that the opening ceremony marked the closing of Vancouver’s streak of misfortune.

Lin Leads Fan Voting for Cousy Award

Published by Christina C. Mcclintock on February 12, 2010 at 10:10PM

Now that the Harvard men’s basketball team has fallen twice in league play midway through conference schedule, the chance of the Crimson’s Jeremy Lin matching up against Kentucky’s John Wall come March have disappeared.

But while the battle between these two guards on the hardwood will have to be postponed indefinitely, Lin and Wall have been pitted against each other in another contest.

Lin, a senior from the Ivy League hoping to extend his playing career beyond his graduation, and Wall, a freshman-phenom likely to be selected first overall in this June’s NBA draft, are two of the eleven finalists for this season’s Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.

Although Lin does not fit the traditional mold of a Cousy Award winner—Lin is the only player represented from the Ivy League and one of three from a team outside the BCS conferences—the 6’3 guard has received far greater fan support than any of the 10 other candidates.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lin had received 42.6% of the fan votes, placing him miles ahead of the second largest vote getter, Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, who had received 24.2% of the vote. Wall sat at a distant third with 15.9%.

Although it looks like Lin will run away with the fan vote, which closes in March, it remains unlikely that Lin will take home the award.

The winner of the award is ultimately chosen by selection committee comprised of 30 NCAA coaches, hall of famers, and media members. Taking the award away from Wall, who leads the No. 2 team in the country in points, assists, minutes, and steals per game, should prove to be a tall task.

To Lin’s credit, the three-time Ivy League player of the week has outperformed Wall statistically, averaging more points, rebounds, blocks, and steals per game. With that being said, ultimately the lower level of competition Lin has played against should do in the Harvard co-captain.

The winner of the award will join the ranks of past winners, Ty Lawson, DJ Augustine, Acie Law IV, Dee Brown, Raymond Felton, and Jameer Nelson, each of whom was selected in the NBA Draft.