BOSTON — Before 2005, Boston University was represented in the annual Women’s Beanpot by its club team … sacrificial Terriers for powerhouse programs like Harvard’s. The way things looked at Matthews Arena on Tuesday evening, not much had changed between the Crimson and Terriers in the four years since.
You’d never know that the Ivy struggled to a 6-7-3 record in its first 16 games, as Sarah Vaillancourt registered a hat trick and four assists, Jenny Brine recorded a hat trick, Kati Vaughn added three assists, and six other Crimson found their way onto the scoresheet as well. Christina Kessler made 17 stops for Harvard (11-7-3), who are trying to make the long climb back from a disastrous first half of the season.
“We were as good as we’ve been all year,” summed Harvard head coach Katey Stone. “I think we’re starting to roll a little bit here, getting some confidence, and you can see it in the kids’ eyes.”
Allyse Wilcox and Ashley Leichliter combined for 29 saves for Boston University (13-10-5), which had it’s winning streak decidedly snapped at two games following a 3-7-2 slide.
It didn’t take long for the Crimson to make their pitch. Barely a minute into the game, they forced the puck through Wilcox’s crease, requiring her belly-flop smother to get the whistle. Harvard pressed the issue again only 15 seconds later, again putting Wilcox on her stomach to ice the play.
The pressure cracked the Terriers soon thereafter, as senior Caroline Bourdeau was dismissed for hooking and the Ivy power play went to work.
The white-clad Crimson harried the hapless Terriers, ringing Wilcox’s post in the first minute of the power play and breaking in on a two-on-one a moment later. Wilcox was up to the task, but lost her stick in the process. Harvard winger Kate Buesser picked up the puck in the corner, fed it up to Anna McDonald, who crossed it to Jen Brawn. Wilcox was adjusting to a player’s stick instead of her own, when Brawn rifled it high-blocker on the disheveled ‘keeper.
“I think our game plan fell apart when Harvard showed up,” joked Boston University head coach Brian Durocher. “I give Harvard a lot of credit,” he said. “They came out flying tonight, and put us on our heels right out of the gate.”
The Terriers didn’t muster a shot until the eighth minute of play, whereas the Crimson had already accumulated 10. The ‘Dogs’ first shot came on their first power play of the game, but no sooner had they bothered Kessler than an errant puck was picked up by Vaillancourt sprinting down the left-wing side, who beat Wilcox high on the glove side.
“Certainly, it’s nice to see all of our lines clicking and our defensemen playing with a lot of confidence, and our goaltender playing with a lot of confidence,” said Stone. “It’s a great time to be playing some serious, fast hockey, and that’s what we did tonight.”
With three and a half to play in the first, the Terriers killed off a Holly Lorms minor and sprung senior Kelley Karnan on a blue-line breakaway. Kessler played it cool despite Karnan’s full head of steam, and the winger missed high over the world-caliber goalie’s blocker.
Harvard ended the first on another power play, hoping to build on a 2-0 lead. The Crimson drove 14 shots Wilcox’s way, while Kessler only saw four pucks on net from the scarlet skaters.
“Maybe if we could’ve got one in the second, we may get a hockey game … but unfortunately they got the next two and by that point it was kinda lights out,” assessed Durocher.
The crew from across the Charles didn’t convert on the second half of its cleaved advantage, but it did nearly extend its lead on another Terrier turnover a minute afterward. Sarah Wilson stripped defender Melissa Tetreau at the BU blue line and broke in alone on Wilcox, only to have the senior netminder deny her with a butterfly kick-stop.
Three seconds past the halfway mark, Harvard finally potted its elusive third goal as senior defenseman Vaughn buried Brine’s rebound past a prostrate Wilcox. Two and a half minutes later, Harvard beat her again on a nifty back-door tip-in from sophomore Katharine Chute to Brine on Wilcox’s left post.
Durocher and the ‘Dogs seemed to pull out all the stops on a McDonald double-minor at 13:37, culminating in senior Erin Seman’s ten-foot one-time bid from the middle of the Harvard slot. The shot hit Kessler square, however, and moments later the remaining 1:47 of BU’s advantage was lost in the wake of a Tara Watchorn checking minor.
With 1:22 remaining in the second, Terrier captain Gina Kearns crashed the Harvard zone with senior classmate Nicki Wiart in a two-on-one. Kearns dragged the puck, assessing her options, but when she finally elected to shoot Kessler had already slammed the door.
The Crimson trooped into their locker room up 4-0, looking ahead to another abbreviated power play to open the third.
Vaillancourt heaped on the misery only 18 seconds into the third, beating Wilcox clean on a breakaway for the 5-0 lead. Brine made it an even half-dozen three minutes by virtue of being the first Crimson to touch the puck as it lay lonely next to a frazzled and frustrated Wilcox. Durocher and Leichliter finally gave Wilcox a break at the ten-minute mark, after 31 Harvard shots.
The new face in net fared no better against the ravenous Crimson, as Cori Bassett wound up and wired one past Leichliter from the right-wing point. The junior goalkeep got a small measure of revenge with 4:30 to go, however, stoning Bassett on a breakaway.
Vaillancourt wrapped things up by tacking on Harvard’s two-point conversion with three and a half to go, dipsy-doodling around two Terrier defenders before whipping a high-glove wrister over an overcommitted Leichliter.
“It just seemed like one of those days where everything got through,” said Vaillancourt, who still fell a point short of her career-high. “It seemed like a game where everything you threw at the net, it went in.”
“[Vaillancourt] has already been recognized once as the player of the year in college hockey,” praised Durocher after the star’s seven-point performance at his team’s expense. “I don’t know if she’s having as explosive a year as she’s had some other seasons, but tonight was a pretty darn good presentation.”
The Terriers aim to recover in time for this weekend’s Friday/Saturday home-and-home with No. 9 Connecticut, while Harvard hosts Yale and Brown.