BOSTON — For the second straight season, Harvard had to play three postseason overtime periods at home. Except unlike last year’s NCAA win over Mercyhurst, this time it took Harvard two days to score the game-winner.
At 4:22 of the second overtime period Sunday, speedy junior Jennifer Sifers finally sent Harvard (16-12-4) to a date at St. Lawrence next Saturday. Breaking through the neutral zone on a pass by linemate Liza Solley, she outskated Clarkson defenders into the slot and rifled the puck through Clarkson goalie Kira Hurley.
“I usually go wide with the puck and it hasn’t been working on this goaltender because she’s pretty big, so I just cut to the middle to get a shot on net,” Sifers said. “I wasn’t even looking, so I’m happy it went in.”
Sifers also tied the game 1-1 with 1:24 to go in the second period when she outskated Clarkson defenders while crashing the net for the rebound off a shot by Solley.
“She’s a rock star, she does everything we ask her to do,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We call her Snipes, it’s kind of a joke, but that was a snipe today. That last shot was a great shot.”
Harvard outshot Clarkson 16-9 over the two overtime periods. Unlike yesterday’s 2-1 overtime defeat, the Crimson did not slow down in the end.
“We were sitting in the locker room, and we were like, we’ve been to overtime so many times this year it’s nothing new, let’s just get out there and get it done, and I think everyone just sat back and found it within themselves to put everything they had out there,” Sifers said.
“Everyone worked so hard, Jennifer Sifers was able to put the icing on the cake, but everybody was right there to make the cake,” Stone said.
The loss was a tough one for Clarkson (22-14-1) to take, as it ended the program’s landmark third season in which the Golden Knights were a legitimate contender for the ECACHL crown.
“One of the real encouraging things is a lot of them played their best hockey this weekend,” said Clarkson coach Rick Seeley. “A lot of young players pulled together at the most crucial time — that’s a great sign for things to come.”
“I thought it was a great series overall, both teams played hard with great goaltending,” Stone said. “I feel for the Clarkson kids because they did everything they could to win, and so did we.”
The Golden Knights’ only goal came 9:09 into the game. A breakdown allowed Marie-Jo Gaudet to get open in front on a pass from Chris Bailkowski.
That was the only goal allowed all day by Harvard senior Ali Boe, who stopped 25 of 26, with some of the most dangerous chances coming in overtime.
“[Boe] is playing to play another day — all these seniors are,” Stone said. “She’s doing everything she needs to do, so we’re very happy with her play.”
Hurley had a tougher challenge, as Harvard got better as the game went along and built a 53-26 total shot advantage.
“They’re experienced on the other side, no question,” Seeley said. “We don’t have a lot of depth but we’ll take care of that next year. It was just a great battle, we had our chances to score in overtime, and they pulled it off.”
Hurley maintained her success despite a nagging subluxing shoulder, which was at its worst this weekend according to Seeley.
“She showed the team a lot of character and toughness, and that bodes well for the future too,” he said.
While Clarkson looks to next season, Harvard looks to next weekend. Next up is No. 2 St. Lawrence, and for the first time in months, the Crimson can claim to have some momentum.
“I’m glad our team has the opportunity to up and play St. Lawrence,” Sifers said. “I think we deserve it, we’re so hard-working. I’m just glad I could help us get there We’re so excited, and we’re going to carry that momentum into next week.”