One of the matchups everyone was eagerly awaiting in the championship was the battle between Patty Kazmaier finalists: Angela Ruggiero from Harvard on defense and Northeastern’s Chanda Gunn in goal. Each was one of ten finalists for the award, given annually to the top women’s collegiate hockey player, announced earlier this week.
That matchup came, literally, in the first period when Ruggiero broke in alone, streaking for the Northeastern net. Gunn moved across the net to make the save, but Ruggiero tucked it past her to give the Crimson a 2-0 lead.
“Ruggiero’s an awesome player,” said Gunn. “But I could have made that save, if I had been on the top of my game.”
“Of course she’d say that,” answered Ruggiero.
The two are old friends. Both are from California, and played together on a state team before going different collegiate routes.
“I’ve known her longer than anyone [at the Beanpot],” said Ruggiero. “She’s such a good goalie. She’s a tremendous athlete.”
After the game, the two shared a hug.
“Don’t you have something to say to them?” Gunn asked Ruggiero, cocking an eye toward the reporters.
“Chanda’s the coolest,” recited Ruggiero obediently.
The Beanpot title game allowed Gunn a chance to get her game back on track. This weekend against New Hampshire, Gunn allowed five goals in the first 40 minutes before being replaced in net.
“I came off a rough UNH weekend,” said Gunn. “I started a little shaky. I didn’t have a lot of time between then and now, and maybe I was playing the third period of that game,” she said, alluding to allowing two first-period goals that put her team in a hole. “I’m proud of myself, though. I never gave up.”
“Chanda’s one of the best goalies in the country, no doubt about it,” said Katey Stone, Harvard head coach. “She was going to see a lot of shots, which goalies like. It keeps them in focus.
“I don’t think she was great to start, but she got better as the game went on.”
Compare And Contrast
There were some similarities between Monday’s Beanpot final for the men’s teams and Tuesday’s game for the women. In each group (both consist of the same four Boston-based teams: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern) only one of the field was nationally ranked, and that team went on to have a marked shot advantage in the title game: 52-13 for the men, 56-11 for the women. Both won it.
The teams, though, were completely different. While No. 1 Boston College and Boston University battled for supremacy at the FleetCenter in front of 17,000 fans Monday, No. 3 Harvard and Northeastern matched up Tuesday in front of 250.
In the men’s tournament, Boston University has had an incredible streak in the Beanpot that has seen the Terriers win eight of the last ten titles while having nine of ten MVP winners, with the other two ‘Pots and the remaining MVP going to BC.
In the women’s game, Harvard has captured seven of the last ten titles, with the other three going to Northeastern. Boston University has finished in fourth place — dead last — in all ten years.
The reason for the striking difference in BU’s performance is the fact that the Terriers’ women’s hockey team is a club program, not sanctioned or financially supported by the school’s athletic department, unlike the other three schools in the tournament.
The captain of the Boston University team, Erine Sato, said the team’s goal this year was to score just once, after being shutout in both games last year. Sato herself scored BU’s only goal in a 7-1 loss in the consolation game.
“It was amazing to see the black thing cross the goal line,” she said, grinning.
“The BU players deserve a tremendous amount of credit for preparing and competing here,” said Stone. “I was talking to [Northeastern coach] Joy Woog before the game, and I said, ‘Some day, BU will turn it on and they’ll be taking it to us every year.’”
At a sold-out FleetCenter crowd on Monday night, a plug was given for the women’s championship over the loudspeaker during each period, but Stone would like to see even closer ties between the men’s and women’s Beanpots.
“I dream about it every day,” she said. “What better venue for the women’s title game than the FleetCenter before the men’s game? It’s all set up. Maybe they could move the consolation game to earlier in the day.”
“Everyone knows about the men’s Beanpot,” said MVP winner Angela Ruggiero. “But some people don’t even realize we have a tournament with the women’s teams.”
“There have been some discussions,” said Stone. “But we need someone to take the bull by the horns and get it done.”
BC’s Lisa Davis won the Bertagna Award, given each year to the goaltender who appears in both games of the Beanpot and has the highest save percentage. Davis made 59 saves last Monday against Harvard, and stopped the only puck she faced in 20 minutes of play against BU in the consolation, for a two-game save percentage of 0.938.
Davis won the award last year as well. As a sophomore, she could win it four consecutive years.
Northeastern coach Joy Woog stressed the job the goaltender does. “It’s very important. Goaltending’s one of the biggest parts, if not the biggest part, of hockey.”
Harvard’s Ruggiero received the Most Valuable Player award, making it five of six MVPs to Olympic players. Team USA’s A.J. Mleckzo won the award in 1999, and Team Canada’s Jennifer Botterill in 2000, 2001 and 2003. All three players won while playing for the Crimson, who have won six straight tournament titles.
The other year, 2002, the award was given to Harvard’s Tracy Catlin. The other award winners were all with their respective national teams in the Olympics that year.
While Ruggiero is a senior and won’t be back next year, another Harvard Olympian, Julie Chu, will be, so the streak may continue.