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College Hockey:
NCAA Semifinal Notebook

Harvard vs. St. Lawrence

Do I Know You?

St. Lawrence and Harvard met twice during the regular season. The first, coming back in November, resulted in a 5-1 win for Harvard at home in Cambridge. The second, on the Saints’ home ice, was a 4-4 tie.

The two teams also met in last year’s NCAA semifinal, a 2-1 Harvard win. Harvard fell to Minnesota 6-2 in the final, and St. Lawrence ended the season with a 2-1 win over Dartmouth in the third place game.

St. Lawrence has been in the Frozen Four three of the last five years, and Harvard has been chosen in four of the first five years of the tournament.

Penalty Trouble

The game’s turning point came in the second period. After being outscored 2-0 and outshot 10-1 in the first 12 minutes of the game, St. Lawrence fought back and started pressuring the Crimson. The Saints scored their first goal in the first minute of the second period, and were generating more and more chances. The tide was starting to turn.

Then, when Harvard goaltender Ali Boe made a save and squatted motionless in goal to trap the puck, St. Lawrence captain Rebecca Russell skated through the crease and clipped the goalie, sending Boe sprawling to the ice.

Russell received two minutes for roughing, and Harvard scored on the resulting power play for a two-goal cushion. St. Lawrence would not score again in the game, and from that point on the outcome wasn’t in doubt.

“The ref called a penalty on me,” said Russell. “I was going for a rebound and I guess I went too far in and got caught.”

“I thought it was huge,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “Why was the player so close to the goalie? It was a teaching moment as well as an opportunity.”

Hat Trick

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Sarah Vaillancourt scores the second Harvard goal. (Photo: Josh Gibney)

Scoring her second hat trick of the season was freshman phenom Sarah Vaillancourt. The first came in the Crimson’s 5-3 come-from-behind win against Connecticut back in December. The Huskies came on strong at the end of the season and finished as the runner-up in the Hockey East championship game.

Vaillancourt was just happy to help her team advance to the title game. “It’s great that I scored a hat trick, but I didn’t do it for my stats.”

It was the fourth hat trick in the five-year history of the NCAA Tournament, and the first by a Harvard player. Harvard has allowed two hat tricks against NCAA opponents, most recently Minnesota’s Natalie Darwitz in the 2004 NCAA final.

Road Woes

St. Lawrence coach Paul Flanagan suggested that the extensive travel schedule had affected his team’s ability to put together as solid a performance as possible.

“Nine of 16 days on the road maybe takes it toll,” said Flanagan. St. Lawrence played in the ECACHL Tournament semifinals in Schenectady, N.Y. on March 12, then traveled to Duluth, Minn. for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. After an overtime win there, the Saints made their way to Durham for this tournament.

Harvard also played in the ECACHL Tournament, winning 4-1 over Dartmouth, but got to spend the first round of the NCAA Tournament playing at home. That game, against Mercyhurst, went to triple overtime before Harvard won, 5-4.

“It paid dividends for Harvard, playing at home,” said Flanagan.

Peaking At The Right Time

At the beginning of the season, Harvard had some adjusting to do, primarily in finding players to fill the hole left by the graduation of Patty Kazmaier winner Angela Ruggiero. The 2004 portion of the Crimson’s schedule ended with a disappointing 7-6-1 record, including home losses to UMD, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and road losses to Yale and New Hampshire.

The loss to New Hampshire, which closed out the calendar year, came on the same ice surface as the Frozen Four, and at that point, Katey Stone thought her team might have a difficult time returning to the NCAA championship game for the third straight year.

“We played the toughest schedule in the country for a reason — to expose our weaknesses,” Stone said. “We limped into Christmas break, but we agreed we would sprint out.”

And sprint the Crimson did, and the team has yet to lose again.

Quotables

“I’m definitely rooting for Dartmouth, which is hard to do when you work for Harvard.” — Harvard head coach Katey Stone on the evening semifinal

“The senior class has won 99 games. We’re going for number 100 on Sunday.” — Paul Flanagan, St. Lawrence skipper

“My team was greeted by a vintage picture of me from my lacrosse days, and I was not as svelte as I am now.” — Stone, who lettered in both hockey and lacrosse as an undergraduate at New Hamphire. In another nostalgic moment, her longtime hockey coach and role model Russ McCurdy came down to wish her luck between periods.


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College Hockey:
NCAA Semifinal Notebook

Minnesota vs. Dartmouth

Record Book

With this being just the fifth season of the Women’s Ice Hockey NCAA Tournament, new records are commonplace.

Minnesota’s Natalie Darwitz scored just 13 seconds into the game, marking the fastest opening goal in the tournament. However, Darwitz did not break the record for fastest goal to start a period, as that record of nine seconds is held by…. Natalie Darwitz. She set that record in the 2004 final game against Harvard.

The seven goals by Minnesota is the most ever scored by one team in a NCAA Tournament game, topping the old record of six held by three teams. The seven goals scored by both teams in the first period tied a tournament record, as did the nine combined goals in the game.

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Minnesota’s Krissy Wendell can’t get the puck past Dartmouth’s Alana BreMiller (18) and goalie Kate Lane. (Photo: Josh Gibney)

Ironically, the game also set the record for fewest combined shots as Minnesota had 24 and Dartmouth had 10. The six shots, three each, in the second period is a new record low. The Gophers held Dartmouth without a shot in the third period, the first time that had been done.

Laura Halldorson, Minnesota head coach, becomes the first coach to appear in four consecutive NCAA tournaments, and her team’s 34 wins is the most ever by a women’s ice hockey NCAA participant.

Big Ice

The Frozen Four, being played on New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center, is on a wider, Olympic size sheet of ice. Most college hockey teams do not play on the larger surface.

Minnesota’s Ridder Arena is fitted with a smaller NHL size ice surface, but the team practiced earlier this week at the men’s Mariucci Arena, which sports a larger sheet.

“We pride ourselves on being a fast team, a quick team,” said Minnesota forward Natalie Darwitz, who scored the game’s opening goals. “We just wanted to go out there and use our speed.”

“That top line, if you give them any room, they’re going to hurt you,” said Dartmouth senior Meagan Walton.

“We knew that the big ice was something that both teams had to contend with, and both teams would try to exploit,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “Minnesota did a great job of that.”

Next year’s Frozen Four, hosted by Minnesota, will be at Mariucci Arena, so it will again be on the larger, Olympic sheet.

Freshman Fever

With the game well in hand with a four-goal lead, it would have been easy for Minnesota to ease back a bit and relax. But when a third line center like Jenelle Philipczyk chips in a late goal that seals the game, it makes the team that much better.

“Toward the end of the game, freshman Philipczyk had a great goal,” said Gopher co-captain Kelly Stephens, who had a goal and two assists earlier in the game. “So it ended on a great note for us. That’s what makes our team go.”

It was the second career goal for Philipczyk, the first coming back in early October against North Dakota in Minnesota’s first series of the season.

The interplay between the newcomers and the veterans is what makes the game so interesting, according to the players on the top line.

“It’s an odd mix, because we have young players, but many of them have a lot of experience,” said Stephens.

Impatience Pays

With the later game not scheduled to start until 8 p.m., and then being delayed until after 8:30 due to the long running first semifinal, the game day nerves had plenty of time to build up.

“It was the longest day,” said Darwitz, with an exasperated sigh. Her two goals in the opening minutes helped the entire team to focus and get on the same page.

“We have freshmen that have never played in an NCAA Frozen Four game, and the nerves made the day that much longer,” said Krissy Wendell. “When Natalie got that [first] goal it allowed everyone to take a breath and relax.”

A Glass Semi-Empty

The defeat for Dartmouth was its fourth in four NCAA semifinal appearances since the inaugural tournament in 2001. Dartmouth also lost in its only semifinal appearance of the national championship sponsored by USA Hockey in 2000 as well as its three ECAC semifinals prior to 1998 when the league sponsored the only D-I women’s postseason tournament. That gives Dartmouth an 0-8 record combined across the semifinal games of each season’s premier tournament.


The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

Please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum. Your posts will more than likely be deleted, and worse yet, you reflect badly on yourself, your favorite team and your conference.

BNY Mellon Wealth Management