PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown had given No. 1 Harvard two of its toughest games during the regular season, but come playoff time, the Bears’ youth could not match the Crimson’s experience.
Harvard captain Jennifer Botterill notched four goals in all and two assists-including a first-period hat trick-and nine different Crimson players tallied points in a 10-3 Harvard victory. The Crimson (29-1-1) became the first team to score double-digits against Brown (14-14-4) since 1986.
Harvard went up 3-0 in the just first eight minutes. Brown kept it close at 5-3 late in the second period but the Crimson dominated down the stretch.
“The kids were ready to go,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We had a longer than usual week of practice, and they were gearing up for the big games. We got better as we went along today.”
The Crimson scored just 24 seconds in the game when senior Tracy Catlin deflected in a shot from Botterill. It was Catlin’s first goal since she found her permanent home on the first line last week.
“We made too many mistakes,” said Brown coach Digit Murphy. “We beat ourselves right from the first shift. That set the tone for the game.”
Brown had opportunistically kept itself in the game until in the second period when a shorthanded goal by Harvard junior Lauren McAuliffe that made the score 6-3 was a back-breaker.
“We really felt like we were in it to that point,” Murphy said. “Everything we were throwing on the net was getting bobbled or might have gone in. That goal was a momentum killer. That’s been our theme all year.”
On the critical shorthanded goal, Harvard captain Angela Ruggiero brought the puck out of the defensive zone with a great individual effort and broke in on net. As she came down the right side, she snapped the puck back to McAuliffe, who one-timed the puck high into the right corner for the 6-3 advantage. Harvard’s penalty kill has outscored its opponents’ power play this season.
“I think when teams are on the power play they don’t go as hard in their end,” Ruggiero said. “We try to take advantage with hard forechecking.”
Harvard all but iced the game when Ruggiero scored Harvard’s seventh goal on the power play early in the third when Ruggiero received a pass from Van Reesema, moved in on Brown goaltender Pam Dreyer, pulled Dreyer to the right and finished to the left side.
“There were situations in the game were different people contributed and it jump started our team,” Botterill said.
Brown’s second-team All-ECAC goaltender Pam Dreyer was pulled after the seventh goal. She had been the key to Brown’s close 3-2 and 4-3 regular season victories over the Crimson, but could not repeat that feat today. Stone said the combination of Brown’s flyer system and Dreyer’s hot goaltending had been the difference in those games.
For Brown’s seniors, the 10-3 defeat was a difficult way to end their careers. But captains Kim Insalaco and Cassie Turner said they were proud of their accomplishments, including two ECAC titles and national championship appearances, and they had no regrets.
“Not a great way to go out, but these players have won incredible championships. The end wasn’t as sweet as the beginning but they’ll be better people for it,” Murphy said.
Murphy was thankful her young team was able to come back against St. Lawrence so it could have the experience of playing Harvard.
“Now the freshmen I have are going to know what it means to play in a championship event,” Murphy said.
Harvard needed just over eight minutes to jump ahead 3-0. After Catlin’s score, Botterill’s individual efforts provided the next two scores. On the first she worked the puck out from the side boards and provided the backhand finish past Dreyer. On the second, she single-handedly maneuvered past a defenseman and deflected the puck off Dreyer’s glove, then off the crossbar, putting Harvard up 3-0.
“Every time you look at her, her head’s up,” Turner said of Botterill. “She sees everything on the ice. Even if you stick someone on her she’s going to get through.”
Insalaco beat Harvard goaltender Jessica Ruddock on a soft shot from the high slot that snuck just inside the left post to cut the deficit to 3-1, but Botterill made up for that with just three seconds left in the period when she drilled a backhanded setup from ECAC Rookie of the Year Julie Chu from a few feet out that Dreyer could not handle. That score completed Botterill’s first-period hat trick and made the score 4-1.
Brown sophomore Katie Guay, who had been stymied by Ruddock on a breakaway late in the first period had her revenge early in the second when she deflected the puck out of Ruddock’s glove on the ice as Ruddock tried to handle a shot from Insalaco.
Harvard sophomore Ashley Banfield extended the lead back to 5-2 on a power play goal. She finished on a puck that Dreyer could not handle when Ruggiero set up Catlin in front.
Banfield had endured a hard hit Brown just moments before. The penalty came when Brown freshman Ashlee Drover took Chu down from behind on a breakaway.
Brown freshman Keaton Zucker brought the Bear deficit back to two when she was sprung free on a breakaway as Harvard was caught in the offensive end pressing for its sixth goal.
Goals by Chu, Botterill, and sophomore Nicole Corriero capped Harvard’s scoring.
Harvard’s eighth goal was a tribute to patience. Botterill broke the puck out on a three-on-two and left the puck for Chu who had a clean look at the net. Chu held the puck, took aim, and fired it right over Germain’s shoulder for the finish.
Botterill made it 9-3 on the power play as Germain had gone down, Catlin brought the puck out back in front and Botterill had an open net to shoot at.
Harvard added the 10th goal when an off-balance McAuliffe tipped a short pass to Corriero in traffic and Corriero provided the one-handed finish. It was the first goal from neither the special teams nor the first line for the Crimson.
Harvard now looks ahead to the ECAC championship tomorrow.
“I feel really good about today,” Stone said. “I think we got better every 20 minutes. We were a little choppy early but we caught some breaks. My hat goes off to Brown. They made it a very exciting game despite the score. Some kids ended their careers today and they certainly did it valiantly.”