BOSTON, Mass. — This weekend No. 4 Harvard hosted one program that had been to two Frozen Fours in four years and another which had only been in existence for two years. So it was somewhat of a surprise that the second-year program was tougher to beat.
Saturday night at Bright Hockey Center, Clarkson (4-4-3) limited the Crimson (6-1-1) to just a single even-strength goal. In the 4-0 Harvard win, Crimson coach Katey Stone praised the work ethic of the opposition, including goaltender Kira McDonald, who stopped 39 of 43 shots.
“They played positions well and just gutted it out. I personally thought they played a lot harder than St. Lawrence did,” said Stone, whose team had beaten the No. 6 Saints 5-1 the night before. “They were a lot tougher to beat than St. Lawrence. It’s great to play teams that make you struggle because you have to figure it out.”
The only Crimson even-strength goal was scored by Sarah Vaillancourt after she won an extraordinary one-on-one battle, beating the last defender by passing the puck to herself and stuffing the puck into the near side.
Tri-captain Nicole Corriero once again paced the Crimson with two goals and two assists. On the strength of nine goals and three assists in Harvard’s last three games, she now ranks third among the nation’s top scorers per game.
Her first goal, Harvard’s second, came shorthanded when she stickhandled the puck around McDonald after Julie Chu led her into the zone. Her second goal, a deflection off a Chu shot from the point, gave the Crimson a 3-0 lead shortly thereafter.
“Nicole has a great scoring touch,” Chu said. “When she’s in the goal area and the puck’s loose, she’s going to do anything she can to put it in the back of the net, and that’s a great kind of fire and edge we need in that area.”
The final Crimson goal came from the team’s new-look power play unit, which featured senior defenseman Ashley Banfield working down low. She converted a feed from Corriero for the 4-0 lead.
“We’re trying to find the right mix,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone in describing the power play changes. “We have a lot of options. As we all know, more penalties are being called, so we have to have depth in the special teams area.”
While the Golden Knights were tougher for Harvard to beat in the defensive end, they certainly were not St. Lawrence’s match in the offensive end. Clarkson was limited to just 11 shots on goal, all of which were stopped by junior Ali Boe. With the shutout, Boe matched the school career record.
“She’s so great at staying focused regardless of how many shots she gets on net,” Corriero said in praise of Boe. “She makes big plays, little things that make a big difference, like being aggressive on power plays and coming out and challenging the puck.”
Clarkson matching up as well against an opponent as travel partner St. Lawrence is not unprecedented this season. Two weeks ago, Providence tied the Golden Knights 3-3 and blew away the Saints 5-1.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Clarkson will play its North Country rival in a home-and-home series. Harvard will be hosting No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Minnesota in its Thanksgiving tournament with major national implications.