BOSTON — Harvard has had its fair share of last-minute heroics against Clarkson this season, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before the Golden Knights returned the favor.
Katie Morrison scored with 23 seconds left in the first overtime period to give the Golden Knights (22-13-1) a 2-1 win and force a decisive Game Three with Harvard (15-12-4) in their ECAC quarterfinal series. Freshman Jenny Brine’s game-tying goal late in the third period went for naught.
On the game-winner, Harvard let Clarkson fire at will, as the Golden Knight’s constant aggressiveness finally paid off. Morrison had her initial shot stopped by Crimson goalie Ali Boe, but she retrieved her own rebound and put the puck into the opposite corner.
“We got a little careless with the puck in our own end and it cost us,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone.
Harvard showed life late in the third period and early in overtime after a dismal start to the game. Shortly before Brine scored to tie the game, Harvard got the puck behind Clarkson goalie Kira Hurley, and a Knight defender had to scoop the puck out of the zone. Through all the near misses, Harvard kept the pressure on.
With 2:30 to go, Brine took a shot from the slot aimed for Hurley’s blocker side to create a long rebound for Jennifer Raimondi. The plan worked, and as Brine crashed the net herself, Raimondi’s shot deflected off Brine at the edge of the crease and into the net.
The score was reminiscent of last Saturday’s win against Clarkson when Harvard tied the game in the last minute of regulation and won in the last second of overtime. Harvard also scored an extra attacker goal in a 4-3 loss to Clarkson in November.
The Crimson has struggled to translate that sense of urgency to other parts of the game.
“I told them that in overtime, you have to play like you’re down a goal, and they came out that way,” Stone said. “We mounted a pretty good attack in overtime, but we need to do a better job of keeping care of our own end.”
Harvard had the bulk of chances in overtime, outshooting Clarkson 12-8 and sending at least three pucks across the crease in the opening minutes. The Golden Knights had their fair share as well, and both Boe and Hurley did their job. Each goalie finished with 33 saves.
“Seemed like we were dominating most of the overtime,” Brine said. “It was frustrating because we had tons of opportunities, and they get one good chance, and it’s over.”
Harvard’s execution in the first two periods was more ripe for criticism than anything that happened in overtime. The first period was a familiar story — Harvard took two penalties to none for Clarkson and was outshot 11-5.
Clarkson uncharacteristically took three penalties in the second period, but Harvard was incapable of mounting any power play attack. On one power play in the second period, Crimson players failed on several occasions to complete passes on their breakout, even when Clarkson was barely pressuring them.
Just past the game’s halfway point, Clarkson’s Ashley Shaidle dug the puck out of the corner and found Micheleen Devine wide open in front with plenty of time to beat Boe.
“The pressure was intermittent — there were moments we were all over them, and moments where we gave than more space than we wanted to,” Stone said.
The decisive Game Three will be played tomorrow at 4 p.m. With a win, Clarkson would get to play a rubber match of its season series with St. Lawrence. The North Country rivals drew about 4,000 total fans for their home-and-home in November.
Harvard can keep its hopes of defending its ECACHL title alive with a win, or it can stay home.
“They understand the ramifications of what’s going on,” Stone said of her players. “They have to make a decision about how they’re going to play the game. When they come out and play hard, they’re really good.”