BOSTON, Mass. — In game two of Minnesota-Duluth’s weekend series against Harvard, UMD coach Shannon Miller saw the challenge from Harvard that she expected after the Crimson suffered a 6-3 defeat the day before. Twice the Crimson took the lead and held it for over 15 minutes, but twice the Bulldogs answered.
Then in overtime, UMD’s first line that had been held without a goal all weekend finally broke through to complete the sweep and a 3-2 win.
Although Caroline Ouellette and Noemie Marin were responsible for the game-winner, it was the second line players for No. 3 UMD (11-1-2) that scored eight of nine goals against the No. 5 Crimson (6-5-1) for the series. Sophomore Jessica Koizumi led the way with two goals in each game.
“What we talked about headed into this weekend was that we have to get production out of our second and third line if we’re going to become a great team and beat really good teams,” said UMD coach Shannon Miller. “I thought it was very appropriate that Harvard was able to shut down our first line except for that last goal, and it was our second line that stepped up and led.”
It took strong execution on a 2-on-2 for UMD’s top line to finally crack the Crimson defense. Ouellette went wide and got the shot off on goalie Ali Boe, who made the initial stop, but the puck trickled through as Marin crashed the net. Ouellette was credited with the goal, although no one was sure who actually scored.
“Caroline and Noemie score nice goals just like that,” Miller said. “Caroline has a nice outside drive. She’s pretty hard to stop. Noemie always goes to the net hard with her stick on the ice. She’s tough-nosed, she gets in there and pays the price. That goal was typical of that tandem.”
In setting up the game-winner, a take down of Crimson sophomore Katie Johnston in the other end was let go, but Harvard wasn’t making excuses.
“We had the opportunity on the 2-on-2 to make a save, and they stuck it in there,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone.
Harvard received a much-improved performance from Boe, who stopped 22 of 25 shots today after giving up four goals in Saturday’s game. On the other end, UMD goalie Riitta Schaublin stopped 22 of 24 shots to follow up a performance on Saturday which Stone termed the best she had seen in years. Both coaches agreed Schaublin was more average on this day and that she was fighting the puck.
“[Boe] played really well today, she was a presence back there,” Stone said. “She definitely answered the call today. She gave us the kind of performance I expected she would. I’m very proud of her.”
Stone said her entire team played far better than it had the day before, as the Crimson led for more than half of the game and never trailed until the last goal light went on.
A turning point came with just over five minutes left in regulation. Harvard let UMD have its way with the puck in the offensive zone on a 4-on-4 and eventually blew the coverage on Koizumi. She had all the time in the world to walk in front from behind the net, stop and shoot to tie the game 2-2.
“We had a kid leave the ice in the defensive end, you can’t do that,” Stone said. “When people walk out in front like that you’re going to probably score nine times out of 10. We can’t allow people to come uncontested to the net. It’s just not the kind of team we are.”
Harvard led 1-0 after a period and 2-1 after two periods. The Crimson converted twice on a UMD penalty kill that had recently limited the No. 1 Minnesota power play to a 1-for-13 mark. Crimson senior defensemen Ashley Banfield scored the first Crimson goal when she converted a feed across the slot from freshman Sarah Vaillancourt. Tri-captain Nicole Corriero netted the second Crimson goal, her 20th of the season, in the final minute of the second period, also on an assist from Vaillancourt.
Although Vaillancourt assisted on both goals today, it wasn’t the best series for her. For the weekend she finished -5 and in this game she took three penalties, including one with just a second left in the second period.
“No matter how talented a player is, she’s a freshman,” Stone said. “With that comes a little bit of latitude. The expectations on Sarah Vaillancourt are no different than on any of my other freshmen. She may have a few tools in the toolbox, but she’s still learning how to use them at different times. It’s a big transition, no matter how dominant you are at the high school level.”
Koizumi scored UMD’s first goal to tie the game 1-1 at 4:19 of the second period, when a clashing of sticks in front of the Harvard net led to a fortunate bounce into the top corner of the net. The Bulldogs were kept off the scoreboard until they began to take control down the stretch of the third period.
“Today was a pretty close game and I know it could have gone both ways,” Ouellette said. “I think we got the edge towards the end of the third. They were back a little bit back on their heels.”
While Harvard was left to lick its wounds after losing its fourth straight to WCHA teams, UMD is riding high after sweeping both Harvard and No. 4 Wisconsin during the first half, this despite missing three players who will not join the team until January.
“I think we’re very proud of what we’ve done so far,” Ouellette said. “I think we have great team chemistry. We work well together. We know when everyone chips in, we can beat all the good teams.”