BOSTON — In a game that featured fast skating, crisp passing, numerous scoring chances, multiple penalties, and outstanding goaltending, Boston College outlasted Harvard 1-0 as the Eagles won their third Beanpot title in the last four years, after never having won it before.
“It was a fun game to watch,” said BC coach Katie King.
Harvard coach Katey Stone agreed, “It was everything you want from a Beanpot Championship.”
The lone tally of the night was scored by Kelli Stack, a shorthanded goal that came midway through the third period. With Harvard pressing on the power play, BC’s Allie Thunstrom knocked a puck loose and she and Stack broke into the Harvard zone on a 2 on 1 shorthanded rush. Thunstrom threaded a pass through the stick of Harvard’s Sarah Vaillancourt, and Stack slid the puck past Crimson netminder Christina Kessler.
“Allie tipped the puck, and I anticipated she’d get it out of the zone,” said Stack. “I knew [Vaillancourt] was a forward, so I thought we had a chance to score on her. I knew that as long as Allie got the puck through her, I’d score the goal. Sure enough, the pass was right on the tape.”
“Usually on a 2 on 1, you play the shooter,” said Kessler, who finished with 22 saves. “So that’s what I did. I knew I had Thunstrom on the left and Stack was on the right. She just got the pass across.”
The one goal stood up as the game-winner, but the rest of the game was very exciting, with both teams getting multiple chances early on. Play was even in the opening minutes of the game, but Harvard used a roughing penalty at 6:46 to BC’s Becky Zavisza to kick start its offense. The Crimson top line dominated territorially, but failed to get a puck past Schaus.
“Schaus. They had Schaus,” explained Stone, on the difference of the game. “She is a difference maker. We had lots of good looks at the net, and she came up big every time.”
Even after the power play to Zavisza had expired, Harvard continually managed to bottle up the Eagles in their own zone. Boston College barely managed to clear the puck, let alone get a shot, for the next ten minutes.
“I thought we had the advantage early on, but the first penalty really put us on our heels,” said King.
The Eagles’ first line did apply some pressure in the waning moments of the frame, but shots after the first period were heavily weighted toward Harvard, 19 to 6.
Boston College had to feel fortunate the game was still scoreless, while conversely the Harvard players were no doubt frustrated that such golden opportunities were being squandered.
The second period was also scoreless, but featured a more balanced period for both teams. A number of penalties provided many scoring chances.
Harvard’s best chance came early in the second, when a bad misdirection off the stick of BC forward Colleen Harris went right onto the stick of Harvard’s Kate Buesser, but Schaus managed to make the stop and preserve the scoreless tie.
The best chance for BC came midway through the period, unsurprisingly on the power play. A scrum in front of the net led to a number of close shots, all turned away by Christina Kessler. Kessler, however, got out of position, and the puck trickled into the crease, before being swept out by defenseman Leanna Coskren.
The end of the second provided some tense moments for the Crimson, as Harvard’s best player and top scorer, Sarah Vaillancourt, was called for checking, followed just 37 seconds later by Sarah Wilson, HU’s third highest scorer on the season, for hooking. However, a BC penalty on defenseman Katelyn Kurth limited the damage, and the Crimson made it out of the situation unscathed.
In the third, Harvard seemed to have a chance to finally go ahead with a hooking call on Eagle Brie Baskin, but that only led to Stack’s heroics. Stack was named the Most Valuable Player for her goal.
Harvard grew more desperate after the BC strike, and peppered Schaus with shots. She faced 12 shots in the period, and finished with 40 saves and the shutout. She was named the Bertagna Goaltender winner for her efforts.
“I can’t say enough about Molly,” said King. “She knew she would see a lot of shots, because they have a really good team over there.
“But we knew we had a chance to win a championship here. Our seniors won it in their freshman year, and again in their sophomore year. They knew what it was like to miss out on it last year, and they didn’t want to let that happen again.”
Katey Stone was disappointed with the outcome, but was cheered up by the effort her team put forth.
“We may not have won tonight, but we played really well, and that’s what it is all about. We need to continue to play well, if we want to have success in the rest of our season.
“It doesn’t matter if you are playing for the Beanpot Championship, or if you are playing for points in an ECAC game when you are in the hunt. It doesn’t matter.”
Harvard looks to refocus this weekend, as the Crimson (13-8-3, 12-4-2 ECAC) travel to Cornell on Friday and then Colgate on Saturday. Boston College (20-7-3, 12-5-1 Hockey East) faces off against cross-town rival and fellow Beanpot team Boston University on Saturday in a battle for second place in the league standings.