BOSTON — Harvard and Northeastern play each other to overtime in the Beanpot? It was hardly a surprise.
Tuesday’s game (see game recap) marked the fourth consecutive year that the two teams needed more than 60 minutes to decide the championship of Boston, and the third consecutive year the final score had been 4-3. And for each the last three years, it had been 2001 Patty Kazmaier winner Jennifer Botterill scoring the goal to win it in overtime. But with Botterill readying to play with Team Canada in the Olympics, Harvard needed a new hero, and found one in Lauren McAuliffe.
“I don’t know if I’m exactly filling [Botterill's] shoes right now,” McAuliffe said. “But we knew someone needed to do it. I was just in the right spot.”
The Crimson juniors and seniors made sure that the underclassmen were aware of the tight games and grit that had marked the Beanpot in recent history.
“I thought it was a big deal, but I didn’t know [until recently] how big it was,” said freshman Kat Sweet, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “The upperclassmen on our team showed us videos of the old Beanpots and they just made us realize how huge it was. We all just stepped up.”
Northeastern coach Joy Woog claimed that the psychological effect of losing three straight Beanpot games to Harvard in overtime didn’t factor into the game, but it certainly helped Harvard’s confidence.
“This always seems to happen with Northeastern,” said junior forward Tracy Catlin. “We have their number when it comes to overtime.”
For Harvard coach Katey Stone, the game just added to a season that she says has been the most pleasurable to coach in her career.
“These kids have a lot of character,” Stone said. “Probably more character than any group of kids I’ve coached at Harvard. They are gamers definitely.”
Cat out of the Bag
Harvard junior forward Tracy Catlin has spent much of her career getting recognition only because she happens to have a twin sister at Dartmouth (the “Evil Twin” story as the team affectionately refers to it). But now she’s coming into her own. Catlin not only scored two of Harvard’s four goals in impressive fashion, she was also the playmaker behind the vast majority of Harvard’s scoring chances on the weekend.
“I think she’s the fastest player in the league. She’s a sniper,” Stone said.
Catlin came into the Beanpot with extraordinary motivation, and it showed.
“I’ve never wanted anything as much as to win this game,” Catlin said. “We’ve been underdogs this year, so it’s a huge thing.”
Senior Alison Kuusisto, who made 25 saves in Harvard’s victory, is officially the Crimson’s affirmed No. 1 goalie now that sophomore Jessica Ruddock is out for a season with a hip fracture.
“[The fracture] had been coming on for the past year and a half and it got to be pretty extreme,” said Harvard Coach Katey Stone. “And thank goodness [the doctors] figured it out when they did.”
Kuusisto is no stranger to stepping up in place of an injured teammate. As a freshman during the 1999 national championship season, Kuusisto started 11 games in place of Crystal Springer, and won them all, including a 7-6 overtime win over Northeastern in the Beanpot semifinals, and a 6-5 overtime win over New Hampshire in the national championship game.
Now for the first time in her career, Kuusisto can look ahead to being Harvard’s top goaltender for a considerable stretch of the season.
“I enjoy being in this position,” Kuusisto said. “I live to play hockey. I feel for Jessica, but it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Stone was disappointed to learn that Harvard junior forward Kalen Ingram was not among the Patty Kazmaier final 10. Ingram is second in the nation behind Dartmouth junior Carly Haggard, who was nominated, in assists per game.
“She’s a tremendous player,” Stone said. “Certainly one of the best I’ve seen from a knowledge of the game, work ethic, and skill. I think she has been our complete player from the start of the season until now.”
Though Stone was unhappy with the selection, she said it did not mean much to the team. And, after all, Ingram has been used to being overlooked for awards, being in the shadow of Botterill and Tammy Shewchuk on Harvard’s first line for much of her career.
“These kids aren’t playing for individual awards,” Stone said. “I’m disappointed, but on the same token, it’s not what it’s about for this group of kids.”