Jillian Dempsey netted the first goal for Harvard in a shootout win over Northeastern (Photo courtesy: Kevin Burns)
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – After a furious comeback that saw a two-goal deficit erased with under five minutes to play, the Harvard women's hockey team kept its cool in the shootout and skated past Northeastern, 3-3 (2-1 shootout), to advance to the Beanpot final, Tuesday at Conte Forum. The victory allows the Crimson to advance to its fourth-straight Beanpot final and gives it a chance to tie Northeastern's record of 14 career tournament titles.
The Crimson looked composed on a power-play midway through the third period, keeping the Northeastern shots to a minimum. With under five minutes showing on the clock, the Crimson turned up the heat on offense and manufactured its second goal of the game. Liza Ryabkina controlled the puck deep in the Northeastern zone and found a streaking Ashley Wheeler in front of the net and the senior fired into the upper corner past Leah Sulyma's glove with 4:14 left.
With the momentum on its side, the Crimson struck again just 58 second later to tie the game at 3-3. Ryabkina winged a pass back to Marissa Gedman at the blue line and the freshman blistered a low shot that hummed past Sulyma's right blocker for Harvard's equalizer. The Crimson had a handful of looks down the stretch, but regulation ended with the score knotted at 3-3.
Despite outshooting the Huskies, 5-0, in the extra frame, the Crimson couldn't muster the game-winner and the contest turned to a best-of-three shootout. Dempsey took the first shot for the Crimson and a smooth fake worked to perfection, putting Harvard up 1-0. The Crimson held the 1-0 lead until Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Northeastern's final shooter, bested Laura Bellamy to knot the score at 1-1. Josephine Pucci was next to go for Harvard and the sophomore blue-liner fired past Sulyma for a 2-1 lead and a gutsy save from Bellamy on the Huskies' final attempt sealed the shootout victory for the Crimson.
The Northeastern power-play showed its teeth on its first attempt as the Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Rachel Llanes tipped a Maggie Dimasi shot past Bellamy to give the home team a 1-0 edge at 9:31 of the opening period. Just over two minutes later, the Huskies doubled their lead on a Casey Pickett tally at 11:36. A Northeastern penalty gave the Crimson a skater advantage with three minutes to play in the stanza but the Huskies produced an effective kill to keep the score at 2-0 after one.
Back-to-back Northeastern penalties gave the Crimson four minutes with an extra skater at the top of the second frame but tight goaltending from Sulyma kept the Crimson at bay. Riding the momentum from consecutive kills, Northeastern notched its third goal shortly after it returned to even strength. Lori Antflick took feeds from Siena Falino and Kristi Kehoe and lifted a shot past Bellamy for a 3-0 lead at 14:48.
The Crimson showed its own power-play presence on the next Northeastern penalty, getting on the board with 7:39 to go in the second stanza. Josephine Pucci controlled the puck in the Northeastern zone and fended off defenders while Kate Buesser collected the puck, weaved towards the net and bested Sulyma stick-side for her 10th goal of the season. Harvard outshot the Huskies 10-1 in the middle period and 35-18 in the game.
Harvard returns to its conference schedule this weekend as it takes on Clarkson, Friday, and St. Lawrence Saturday in a key ECAC road weekend.