BOSTON, Mass. — Last year, the Providence Friars said that freshman Sonny Watrous had the lucky horseshoe because she kept getting lucky goals.
Now they all agree that Watrous has passed it on to junior forward Karen Thatcher this year.
“As long as I as have it, I’m happy with it,” said Thatcher, whose 11 goals in nine games has already eclipsed her total from last season.
Thatcher scored a fluky goal with 1:24 left to lift No. 10 Providence to a 2-2 tie with No. 3 Harvard on Wednesday night at Bright Hockey Center. Both teams led in the game, and neither could put the other team away given the chance, so the tie was a fitting result. The Providence comeback spoiled what could have been an impressive Harvard win with the absence of national teamers Julie Chu and Sarah Vaillancourt.
Thatcher’s goal came with an extra attacker on the ice. In the right faceoff circle, she realized Providence had numbers around the goal, so she fired as hard as she could at the net hoping to make something happen with a rebound. The puck just happened to squeeze inside the arm of Harvard sophomore goalie Emily Vitt, off the far post, and into the net.
“A shot from that angle you don’t think is going to go in very often, but tonight we got a break,” said Providence coach Bob Deraney. “We executed what we wanted to do, get pucks going to the net and good things will happen.”
The goal left Harvard vowing to avoid tiny lapses, to clean up its defensive zone and to finish every play.
“I don’t even know what happened on that goal,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We might have gotten a little tentative and not exploded to the puck then and given them more time, and anyone’s going to hurt you when you give them more time and space.”
Harvard still had a golden chance to win the game in the final minute of overtime. Sophomore Caitlin Cahow, who had a goal and assist for the night, received a diagonal pass in stride from Nicole Corriero to spring free on the breakaway. Cutting in front of the net, she tried to go high on Providence goaltender Amy Thomas, but Thomas grabbed the puck in the air for the most spectacular of her 31 saves for the night.
Providence had a chance of its own in the final seconds but could not get the puck past Emily Vitt, who made 28 saves.
“Emily Vitt made some unbelievable saves too,” Deraney said. “We looked at a couple open nets and couldn’t put them in. We had chances to distance ourselves from them, and we couldn’t.”
After a relatively even first period, Providence went up 1-0 at 5:31 on power play, when Harvard turned over the puck in front, and Rush Zimmerman put in the rebound off a shot from Jenna Keilch from point-blank range. The Friars promptly squandered their advantage by taking five penalties in a row.
Deraney said: “We score the goal, we’ve got some momentum now, and then we let them right back in with five consecutive penalties. How are you going to keep them off the board with five consecutive penalties? Our penalty kill unit got some work today.”
Harvard’s power play flow had improved considerably from just days before. Quick passing and execution allowed Cahow to set up tri-captain Kat Sweet in the slot to tie the game at 11:05.
“Harvard is a great team on the power play,” Thomas said. “They move the puck around really great, and they have great shots, and that’s why they beat us. Without those penalties, we would have won, I’m sure of it.”
Harvard went up 2-1 at 15:34 of the second period when Cahow buried a shot from the point just inside the far post.
“It was sweet to hear it hit the back of the net and come back out, I’m not going to lie,” Cahow said. “I got that opportunity because everyone was clearing out in front of the net and making good quick passes.”
After falling behind, Providence did a good job to keep the deficit at one. Harvard had few scoring chances in the third period.
“We never gave up which is a great testament to our team,” Thatcher said.
Now Providence wouldn’t mind a second chance to play Harvard in March.
Thomas said: “We have a lot of heart, we have a lot of spirit, and I think that’s going to come to play later on when we go to the national tournament when we’ll see Harvard again, we will play them, and we will beat them.”