No. 5 Women's Hockey Heads to North Country, Looks to Clinch Home Ice for Quarterfinals
Photo courtesy of Kevin Burns.
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The fifth-ranked Harvard women’s hockey team heads into the final weekend of the regular season looking to grab important conference points. The Crimson currently sits in a tie with Rensselaer for third place in the ECAC Hockey standings with 26 points, trailing Cornell and Clarkson by four points in the conference standings. Harvard can finish as high as tied for first in the ECAC and as low as seventh, depending on how the upcoming weekend works out.
Follow From Home
GoCrimson.com will provide live statistics for this week’s games, all home games and most road contests this season. Live audio and video is available for both games this weekend at Stlawu.edu/athletics and ClarksonAthletics.com.
Harvard and St. Lawrence have met 43 times, dating back to the first meeting between the conference rivals in 1983-84. The Crimson owns a 27-11-5 record against the Saints and has won the last two meetings between the schools. Earlier this season on Nov. 7, Harvard shut out St. Lawrence, 3-0, at Bright Hockey Center. Christina Kessler made 14 saves for the win and clean sheet, while Kate Buesser scored twice, including an empty net goal, and Ashley Wheeler added a tally.
The Crimson is 13-4-0 in 17 meetings against Clarkson. The Golden Knights defeated Harvard, 2-1, back on Nov. 6, as Kaitlin Spurling netted the lone Harvard goal. Christina Kessler recorded 20 saves between the pipes.
Last Time Out
After falling in overtime at Rensselaer, 3-2, Friday, Harvard responded with a 2-1 victory at Union Saturday afternoon. Randi Griffin scored the game-winner on the power play, while Kate Buesser notched Harvard’s other goal. Kylie Stephens made her first start of the season, stopping 13 shots.
Legendary: Head Coach Katey Stone
Katey Stone is in her 16th season as the Landry Family Head Coach for Harvard Women’s Ice Hockey, and she brings a 336-142-26 (.693) record into Friday’s game. Stone is now only one win shy of tying the all-time Division I record for victories, held by Laura Halldorson (337 wins), who coached at Minnesota and Colby.
Stone, who ranks second all-time in Division I victories, has led Harvard to all seven of its NCAA tournament appearances and has guided the Crimson to 10 Beanpot titles. Stone is also the active leader in victories among Division I women’s hockey coaches.
With its 1-0 win over Northeastern in the Beanpot final Feb. 9, Harvard now has recorded seven shutouts this season. Laura Bellamy has earned three clean sheets, as she also shut down Union Jan. 22 and Boston College Feb. 2. Six of the Crimson’s seven shutouts have come at Bright Hockey Center. Senior Christina Kessler has recorded 25 shutouts during her career at Harvard, a program record.
The Crimson has played nine road games this season, going 5-3-1. Harvard has two road games left in the regular season, beginning with the contest at St. Lawrence Feb. 19.
License to Kill
The Crimson boasts the nation’s sixth-best penalty kill unit, stopping 97 of 108 opponent power plays (.898). The Crimson also has a shorthanded goal to its credit this season, coming off the stick of Jillian Dempsey in a 4-0 win over Union Jan. 22.
Down The Stretch
With two conference games remaining entering the weekend, Harvard sits in a third-place tie in ECAC Hockey with a 12-6-2 record and 26 points. The Crimson is tied with Rensselaer and trails Cornell and Clarkson (30 points) by four points in the standings. Harvard leads Quinnipiac (25 points), Princeton (24 points) and St. Lawrence (23 points) going into the final weekend.
The top four teams in ECAC Hockey will earn home ice for the quarterfinal round Feb. 26-28. Harvard would currently be the fourth seed in the tournament because of tiebreakers.
To Be The Best ...
With its 1-0 win over No. 9 Northeastern Feb. 9, the Crimson stands at 5-2-3 against ranked foes this year. Harvard was 2-6-1 against top 10 opponents last season.
First Thing’s First
The Crimson was 18-0-2 when scoring first and 1-10-1 when the opponent lit the lamp first last season. So far in 2009-10, Harvard is 15-2-2 when netting the game’s first goal and 2-4-2 when the opposition scores first.
Crimson Leading The League
Kate Buesser, who was twice named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week this season, is second in ECAC Hockey with 30 points in conference games and is second in assists with 18. Buesser is also fifth with 12 goals in ECAC Hockey contests. Rookie Jillian Dempsey (9-11-20) ranks eighth in conference points among all players and second among freshmen in the league.
Defender Leanna Coskren is tied for first with 10 power-play points (4-6-10), is tied for third with four power-play goals and stands tied for second with three game-winning tallies to her credit. Coskren ranks tied for third among defenders with 15 points (6-9-15). Cori Bassett also stands in a tie for third in defender scoring with 15 points on four goals and 11 assists.
Beanpot Returns To Cambridge
The Crimson scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over No. 9 Northeastern at Bright Hockey Center Tuesday, as Harvard captured its 13th Beanpot title. Liza Ryabkina netted the game-winner, giving her five goals for the tournament and was named unanimously as the Beanpot MVP. In net, Laura Bellamy recorded her second straight tournament shutout, making 27 saves. For her effort, Bellamy took home the Bertagna Award, given to the Beanpot’s top goaltender.
The World’s Best
A trio of former Harvard standout skaters have been named to the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Team, which will compete at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Angela Ruggiero ’02-04, the Patty Kazmaier recipient in 2004, Julie Chu ’06-07, the winner of the Patty Kazmaier trophy in 2007, and former All-American Caitlin Cahow ’07-08 were named to the American team. On Team Canada, Harvard will be represented by two-time Patty Kazmaier Award winner Jennifer Botterill ’02-03, and Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-09, who was named the top women’s college hockey player in 2008. Overall, Harvard has had nine current and former women’s hockey players represent their countries in the Olympics since 1996.
When The Game Is On The Line
Nine different Harvard players have scored a game-winning goal this season -- Kaitlin Spurling, Liza Ryabkina, Jillian Dempsey, Leanna Coskren, Anna McDonald, Cori Bassett, Kathryn Farni, Kate Buesser and Randi Griffin. Ryabkina has a team-best four game-winning tallies, while Coskren and Spurling have three game winners apiece.
Scoring In A Bunch
As a team, Harvard ranks first in ECAC Hockey with 3.20 goals per game, having scored a league-best 64 tallies in 20 conference games entering the week. The Crimson is averaging 3.60 goals per contest in Ivy League games, good for first in the Ancient Eight.
A Balanced Attack
The Crimson has had 14 different players score at least one goal this year, as the team has netted a total of 76 goals. Sixteen players have at least one point to their credit. Harvard had 15 different players light the lamp last season, scoring a total of 95 goals.
Liza Ryabkina established a new career high, scoring four goals, including three in the third period alone, in Harvard’s 5-0 win over Boston College in the semifinal round of the Beanpot Feb. 2. Ryabkina, who also had the game winner in the Beanpot final Feb. 9, notched two power-play tallies and scored two even strength goals. Her four goals mark the most for a Harvard player since Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-09 lit the lamp four times in a 5-2 win at Cornell Feb. 13, 2009.
Spreading The Puck Around
The Crimson has 11 players who have reached double digits in points: Kate Buesser (33 points), Jillian Dempsey (22), Liza Ryabkina (17), Cori Bassett (16), Leanna Coskren (16), Kathryn Farni (15), Randi Griffin (14), Anna McDonald (12), Kaitlin Spurling (11), Katharine Chute (10) and Josephine Pucci (10).
Just Win, Christina!
Senior goaltender Christina Kessler is 64-16-6 (.779) in her career in net, placing her first on Harvard’s all-time goalie wins, as she passed Ali Boe ’06 with a 5-1 victory against Colgate Jan. 16. Kessler currently holds the NCAA career record with a .9413 save percentage, as she has stopped 1,863 of 1,979 shots faced during her career. Jessie Vetter (Wisconsin 2006-09) owned a .941 save percentage to set the record (2,175 of 2,312, .9407).
Harvard Against The Ivy League
The Crimson owns a 6-2-2 against opponents from the Ancient Eight this season. In its last eight games against Ivy League teams, Harvard is 6-0-2, most recently defeating Yale, 4-3, Feb. 6 The Crimson finished the season second in the Ancient Eight after winning the conference crown in each of the last two seasons.
It’s All Over
Harvard is 109-2-5 (.961) since the start of the 2004-05 season when leading after two periods. The Crimson is 15-1-1 (.912) in this category this season. Harvard’s lone loss came at Rensselaer Feb. 12, as the Crimson fell, 3-2, in overtime after holding a 2-0 lead in the third period. The Crimson led, 1-0, through two periods of play.
Stopping The Puck
Since stepping into the starting role, goaltender Laura Bellamy stands third in the country with a 1.26 goals-against average, while boasting the nation’s sixth-best save percentage (226 of 240, .942). She owns a 7-3-1 record good for a winning percentage of .682, the ninth highest mark in the country. Christina Kessler ranks third with a save percentage of .944 (351 of 372) and stands fourth with a 1.39 goals-against average. Kylie Stephens earned her first start of the season Feb. 13, picking up the victory in Harvard’s 2-1 win at Union. Stephens made 13 saves and has a 2.65 goals-against average on the season.
Hall of Fame Inductee
Former Harvard standout Tammy Shewchuk ’00-01 was inducted into the Women’s Beanpot Hall of Fame during a ceremony between the consolation and championship games at Bright Hockey Center Feb. 9. Shewchuk is second all-time in Women’s Beanpot history with 25 points in eight games, having scored nine goals and handed out 16 assists. She helped Harvard win three Beanpots in 1999, 2000 and ’01. Other Crimson Beanpot Hall of Fame Inductees include Jennifer Botterill ’02-03 (2008) and Cheryl Tate ’82 (2009).
Welcome To The Show
Harvard freshmen have had the scoring touch this season, led by Jillian Dempsey who is second on the team with nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points. Kaitlin Spurling (8-3-11) and Josephine Pucci (4-6-10) have also been scoring threats. Spurling is also tied for second on the team with three game-winning goals.
With its 3-0 victory over St. Lawrence Nov. 7, Harvard earned the 500th victory in program history. The Crimson owns a 515-293-42 (.631)record over its storied 31-year history.
A Stone Wall
The Crimson earned back-to-back shutouts against Minnesota Dec. 4-5, marking the first time that the Golden Gophers were held scoreless since Feb. 2, 2007. The Crimson had not recorded consecutive shutouts since holding Cornell without a goal during the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals Feb. 27-28, 2009.
The Crimson was 9-4-2 at Bright Hockey Center last season, while posting a 9-5-1 mark on the road. In 18 home games this season, Harvard owns a 12-3-3 record on home ice, and is 5-3-1 in road contests.
Entering Friday’s game at St. Lawrence, Harvard has won seven of its last eight games and is 8-2-0 in its last 10 contests.
Harvard ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 1.44 goals per game. The Crimson also ranks fourth in scoring margin (+1.37), sixth on the penalty kill (97 of 108, .898), ninth in combined special teams (118 of 228, .518) and 10th in scoring offense (2.81 goals scored per game). Harvard has also been successful on the power play, scoring 17.5 percent of the time (21 of 120), good for the 13th-best mark in the country.
Rank And File
Harvard is ranked fifth in the latest USCHO.com national poll and sixth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national poll, tying the highest the program has been ranked this year.
Crimson Among The Nation’s Best
With 0.74 assists per game, Kate Buesser ranks 17th in the nation in this category. Buesser also stands 19th with 1.22 points per contest. Liza Ryabkina has four game-winning goals, ranking her eighth, while, at the blue line, Cori Bassett is averaging 0.59 points per game, placing her 16th. Among all of the country’s rookies, Jillian Dempsey stands eighth with 0.81 points per contest.
Christina Kessler made 15 saves for the shutout in Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team’s 9-0 victory over Switzerland in the gold-medal game of the 2010 MLP Cup, held in Ravensburg, Germany Jan. 4-9.
In 10 career starts, Laura Bellamy owns a 7-3-1 record with three shutouts. She has won her six of her last seven games in net, including the Beanpot and stopped a career-high 37 shots in 4-1 win at Dartmouth Jan. 29.
Seniors Cori Bassett and Anna McDonald and junior Kate Buesser each earned a spot on the ECAC Hockey All-Star Team, which faced the U.S. Women’s Hockey National Team in an exhibition game Jan. 3. McDonald scored a goal, while Bassett and Buesser each had an assist.
Hall Of Fame Worthy
The 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team, which included three former Crimson players, and was led by head coach Ben Smith ’68, was recently enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Dec. 1. The 1998 U.S. women’s roster included former Harvard skaters Sandra Whyte ’92, A.J. Mleczko ’97-99 and Angela Ruggiero ’02-04. The team was inducted at The Westin Boston Waterfront hotel in Boston.
Tip Of The Caps
Liza Ryabkina recorded Harvard’s first hat trick this season, scoring four times in the Crimson’s 5-0 win over Boston College in the opening round of the Beanpot Feb. 2. Ryabkina netted three of her goals in the third period, qualifying for a natural hat trick. Harvard players had four hat tricks in 2008-09, including one by Ryabkina.