Harvard and BC move on to final
Defending women’s Beanpot champion Harvard opened its first-round game against Northeastern last night at Conte Forum looking like a day-old pancake, flat and cold.
The Crimson surrendered three goals before the second period was six minutes old. Despite launching a flurry of shots at NU goalie Leah Sulyma, Harvard was staring at the first consolation game for this class of seniors.
But the Crimson (14-8-2) are a team on the rise, climbing into the national poll at No. 10 at the end of January after a slow start to the season, and they scrambled back with two goals in the last five minutes of regulation to make it 3-3.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime, Harvard got a little Beanpot magic. After the first round of the shootout ended in another tie (1-1), Harvard sophomore defenseman Josephine Pucci beat Sulyma, pulling the puck onto her backhand and lifting a shot into the top right corner.
When Harvard goalie Laura Bellamy stopped Kristi Kehoe’s skimmer along the ice, the relieved Harvard bench spilled onto the ice to celebrate.
Harvard will face No. 7-ranked Boston College, a 2-1 winner over No. 3 Boston University, for the Beanpot title next week.
BC senior Kelli Stack sent records toppling as she led the Eagles (19-5-4) over BU (22-4-3). Stack rapped in the winner at 5:36 of the second period, with Mary Restuccia doing the hard work by drawing the BU defense with her into the right corner, then laying a precise pass to Stack as she bore down through the slot.
“Mary’s one of the best playmakers I’ve ever played with,’’ said Stack, who assisted on Restuccia’s goal with three seconds left in the first period. “And I knew if I stayed out high in the slot, she’d get me the puck. Sure enough, it was right on my tape and all I had to do was find the net.’’
It was Stack’s 30th goal of the season, and her assist on BC’s first goal gave her the Eagles’ all-time points record with 199, in 132 games. Erin Magee (1995-99) held the record with 198 points in 117 games.
Holly Lorms got BU back in it with a goal at 6:13 of the third, but that’s all the Terriers could get past BC’s Molly Schaus, who made 33 saves, including 15 in the third period.
In the first game, the happiest player to reach the shootout was Harvard’s Bellamy, who made 15 saves in regulation, while Sulyma stopped 32.
“They call goalies weird for a reason — I mean, I loved it,’’ said Bellamy, a sophomore. “I was excited, and I felt like I owed my team something for the comeback they had.’’
Pucci found out she was up fourth for Harvard just before NU’s third shooter took off.
“It was definitely awesome,’’ said Pucci. “But it wasn’t really great until [Bellamy] made her final save.’’
“Maybe she should have been up there a little higher,’’ said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “I was just really happy for Laura Bellamy because she played that pressure situation with tremendous composure.’’
Halfway through the game, the Crimson seemed unlikely to get past the Huskies (14-10-5); they were unfocused and disorganized. The Northeastern offense was full of jump, and Sulyma, playing her fourth straight game for injured starter Florence Schelling, was spectacular.
Northeastern opened the scoring at 9:31 with a power-play goal, a tip-in by Rachel Llanes. Two minutes later, the Huskies bumped their lead when Claire Santostevano got around Harvard’s Kelsey Romatoski in the neutral zone, and rushed down the right wing. Bellamy stopped Santostevano’s shot, but Casey Pickett crashed in from the left to pop in the rebound.
That’s when it looked like NU’s game, more so after Lori Antflick scored from the left circle at 5:12 of the second period to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead.
“I was disappointed with how we played the majority of the game,’’ said Stone, “until halfway through the third period.’’