CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — After tying defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, Brown expected a better result in Saturday’s game against a Harvard team with nowhere near the acclaim of the Bulldogs this season. Yet when the final buzzer sounded, the score was 4-2 Harvard, and the No. 3 Bears had fallen to 1-3-1 in their last five.
As in its loss to Dartmouth two weeks ago, Brown led 2-1 at the first intermission, but goals from Harvard juniors Tracy Catlin and Pamela Van Reesema gave Harvard the lead in the second, and a goal from Nicole Corriero that deflected in off of her head iced the game in the third.
Brown coach Digit Murphy said her team would eventually be fine, but that everyone was still getting into their groove.
“They didn’t play Brown hockey, they just kind of whacked it around a lot,” Murphy said. “This was probably the worst game all season. We were still on Thanksgiving break as far as I was concerned.”
She called the final result unacceptable in terms of consistency coming off last weekend’s performance against UMD.
“We need to learn to play our game and not to the opponent’s level, and that’s the biggest thing,” Murphy said. “I take nothing away from [Harvard]. Those kids definitely outworked us today.”
Despite its short roster, Harvard had no doubt it could compete with Brown based on its results against Dartmouth, UMD and Minnesota earlier in the season. It just took the Crimson a little experience to finally come through with a win.
“It’s nice if everybody walks into the door thinking they’re going to walk on us, because it’s not going to happen,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We’ve got competitors.”
“We can compete with any of these teams,” said junior center Kalen Ingram, who earned her team-leading seventh assist on Corriero’s goal. “We competed last weekend, but we just came a little short. I think we learned our lesson.”
The Crimson began its comeback at 3:53 when Catlin found the net after bringing the puck up the right side past the blueline and unleashing a high shot over the shoulder of Brown goaltender Pam Dreyer. It was Catlin’s fourth goal of the season. She had also scored a game-tying goal on a similar individual effort against Dartmouth two weeks ago.
Harvard went up 3-2 at the 12:25 mark when Van Reesema hit the near-side high corner of the net from the left point. Her goal was set up as Corriero and freshman winger Katherine Sweet-now on the top line with Corriero and Ingram-worked the puck back around to Van Reesema after the frontliners had brought the puck up ice. Van Reesema has already doubled her goal output from last year with four goals this season.
The Bears outshot the Crimson 24-13 in the first two periods and 30-18 for the game, but Harvard made enough intelligent defensive plays in front of the net and sophomore goaltender Jessica Ruddock made big saves down the stretch to keep Harvard ahead.
The most dramatic of those saves came towards the end of the second, when Brown center Katie Lafleur came down on a breakaway, and Ruddock came out to challenge her. In too close, Lafleur dropped the puck to junior winger Kate Kenny right behind her, but Ruddock fell back, spread her legs around the puck, and made it impossible for Kenny to stuff it through.
Ruddock had struggled in the first period, opening up her five-hole to speedy Brown defenseman Krissy McManus on the Bears’ first goal and leaving an easy rebound for Brown winger Meredith Ostrander to cash in on for the second goal, but she played well enough overall to get the win.
“Our goaltender started out a little unsettled, and she really got into the game and made a really big difference for us particularly at the end of the second period,” Stone said.
In the third period, Brown was limited to six shots goals and fewer scoring chances as Harvard added an extra third player in back. The Crimson netted the insurance goal 8:37 into the third in transition, as Sweet got the puck to Ingram down the left side boards. Seeing Corriero in front of the net, Ingram took a chance and fired the puck on net. Her shot bounced off Dreyer in net, then deflected off Corriero’s head at the top of the crease and into the net.
“I was just going hard to the net, with my stick on my ice,” said Corriero, who was second nationally only to Dartmouth’s Carly Haggard in goals-per-game going into weekend. “The Brown girl was on me really tight, so I knew if I was going to get the puck it wasn’t going to pretty. So I just threw my whole body at the net, and the puck tipped off my head.”
Corriero also assisted on Harvard’s first goal, when she skated into the zone, and passed back. The puck came to perfect dead stop for sophomore Lauren McAuliffe, who one-timed it into the net.
Brown made a few late rushes to the net, but could not capitalize. Harvard captain Jaime Hagerman took two tries at an empty-netter from beyond half ice, but each time her shot deflected off the left post.
There would be no collapse for Harvard this time in the third period, unlike last weekend, when the Crimson gave up three goals in the final five minutes to fall to Minnesota.
“We just kept getting better [today] as the game went on,” Ingram said. “In the past weekend we sort of faded in the third period, but this game, we were like, ‘This is it, this is the third period and we’re going to come out stronger then ever.’ And that was the difference-our third period.”
After the win, Stone readied her team for tomorrow’s game against Providence.
“This is great, but one game doesn’t mean any more than another game.” I told them, ‘You’re going to have to convince me that you’re a two-game-a-weekend team.’”
Brown is idle for the rest of the weekend. The team expects to be healthier next weekend, when it takes on St. Lawrence in a crucial ECAC North series. The Bears were missing both junior co-captain Kim Insalaco and freshman defenseman Amy McLaughlin for today’s game after they had suffered injuries last weekend.
“I’m not worried right now,” Murphy said. “We’ll get Insalaco back, and we’ll get McLaughlin back. We’ll get a few more goods kids on the ice. There’s no excuses, but we’ll be fine down the stretch. We’re just working on some kinks.”