CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — In an offensive show, Minnesota-Duluth stayed undefeated with an 8-5 win over the Harvard Crimson. Duluth’s Maria Rooth picked up four goals on the day, including two critical goals in the
final minutes of play in the third period.
With the score 6-5 in favor of Duluth with just under three minutes to play, Bulldog junior Joanne Eustice took a shot on goal, which Harvard goalie Alison Kuusisto appeared to glove. But when the puck bounced out, coming down behind the goalie, Rooth was there to knock it in, completing a hat trick in the game. With 55 seconds remaining, Rooth added an empty net goal to close out the scoring.
“If Maria Rooth had not been here today, we would have been in trouble. And that’s pretty sad,” said Minnesota-Duluth coach Shannon Miller, who was clearly unhappy with her team’s performance, despite the outcome.
Conversely, Harvard coach Katie Stone was upbeat, even with the loss. “This is one of the hardest working groups of kids I’ve ever coached,” she said. “We’ve had the talent, but we haven’t always had the work ethic that we have now. It is so fun to coach these guys.”
As an indication of the offensive show to come, the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard at just 2:11 of the first period. Eustace took a pass from teammate Jenny Hempel, and put the puck past goalie Kuusisto, who, coincidentally, hails from Duluth.
Harvard answered back quickly, evening the score just 37 seconds later on a ill-timed Minnesota-Duluth line change. Freshman defenseman Ashley Banfield dished the puck to Kalen Ingram, who slipped the puck past a Duluth defenseman to Harvard captain Jamie Hagerman, who scored into the open left half of the net.
“I think they came out flying to play us, because we’re ranked number one,” said Miller. “Unfortunately, we came out and played very sloppy hockey. We played good enough to win and that’s about it.”
Duluth was good enough to retake the lead with an unassisted goal by Rooth at 4:14, and extended that lead to 3-1 with a strong effort by Hanne Sikio. Sikio got by Crimson defensman Banfield, took the puck the length of the ice, and took a shot that passed Hagerman and eluded Kuusisto in the top of the net.
Harvard got closer with a goal by freshman Sarah Holbrook, who stuffed in her own rebound to bring the Crimson within one. But Minnesota-Duluth’s Tricia Guest managed to accomplish the same feat at the other end of the ice minutes later, scoring on a rebound of her own shot.
The second period featured more of the same offensive showcase, with back-and-forth action. Harvard was the first to take advantage in the period. “We’re like little gnats, buzzing in people’s ears,” said Stone. “It’s all about pressure.”
Harvard got within one at 7:11 of the second, on a goal by junior Tracy Catlin. But Duluth got the two goal cusion back just six seconds later when freshman defenseman Larissa Luther took a shot from the point that glanced off Kuusisto’s shoulder and redirected into the net.
Minutes later, with Luther in the penalty box for checking, Harvard’s Kalen Ingram made the score 5-4 by tipping a shot from the point by defenseman Hagerman. But the see-saw game continued, as Duluth goalie Tuula Puputti passed the puck to teammate Rooth, who took the puck the length of the ice and scored her second goal of the game.
To start the third period, Duluth’s Patricia Sautter replaced Puputti in goal. “Both our goaltenders have been out of town… they have not played in the last three weeks. I wanted to get them both in the net tonight,” said Miller.
The Crimson made the game intersting, holding Duluth scoreless while picking up a tally at 12:12 of the frame. On a 4-on-4 situation, freshman Nicole Corriero broke into the Harvard offensive zone and skated in alone on Sautter, putting the puck past for a goal.
Stone had praise for the freshman forward. “[Nicole Corriero's] hands are so good in tight, it’s unbelievable.”
That set the stage for Rooth’s late-game heroics. “Our team took the ice thinking they were the better team, and then just played good enough to stay ahead, rather than playing at the level we can play at,” said Miller. “Very sloppy hockey.”
Minnesota-Duluth continues it’s road trip with a jaunt to play No. 3 Brown tomorrow afternoon, while Harvard plays host to No. 8 Minnesota.