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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.