CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It was Harvard’s rink and Harvard’s crowd.
Now it’s Harvard’s Beanpot trophy, too.
The Crimson made sure of that Tuesday by whitewashing Northeastern, 1-0, in the 32nd annual Beanpot championship tilt, before 1,623 at Bright Hockey Center.
Tournament MVP Liza Ryabkina accounted for the game’s only goal, while netminder Laura Bellamy made it hold up by turning aside all 26 Huskies shots.
It all served to provide Harvard with its 13th Beanpot title, and second in three years.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Ryabkina, a junior from Kharkiv, Ukraine. “There’s literally no other word for it. We really wanted to win this Beanpot. Not winning it last year really disappointed us. We really didn’t want to do that again.”
With Bellamy pitching a second straight Beanpot shutout, they didn’t have to.
Bellamy, a freshman, saw just 11 shots in the first 40 minutes, but was peppered with 16 of them in the third period.
She handled each one flawlessly.
“That third period was just a grind,” she said. “The teams played so well defensively that I’ve been able to keep the puck out of the net.”
The Crimson held a 12-5 first-period shot advantage, as well as the bulk of the scoring threats, all of which were thwarted by Northeastern goalie Leah Sulyma.
Sulmya, who hails from well above the Arctic Circle in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, passed an early test with flying colors, when, at 4:30, she picked off Anna McDonald’s try from the edge of the crease.
Later, at 18:10, Harvard’s Katharine Chute tried shoveling the puck in from close range, but Sulmya was able to flop on it before it rolled across the goal line.
Freshman Kelly Wallace had the Huskies’ first solid scoring chance, which came 25 seconds into the middle period.
Crusing near the right post, Wallace had half the net open to her, but she couldn’t settle the puck, and hit the outside of the cage instead.
Harvard promptly scored on the counterattack, when Ryabkina found a smidgen of space between Sulmya’s pads and threaded in a backhander.
“It’s a little blurry at this point because I was excited,” said Ryabkina, who scored four goals in Harvard’s 5-0 semifinal win over Boston College. “The goal was an overall effort by every one of my teammates. I practice a lot shooting from that [left] corner, so I knew where all the openings were. It just worked out well.”
That led to a full scale 26-shot assault by Harvard in that period alone, but Sulmya turned the rest of them aside and single-handedly kept the Huskies in the game.
“At the end of the second, I was dead,” said Sulyma. “Having that break was crucial. I just really wanted to win.”
Northeastern used that breathing room to generate a handful of third-period threats.
With 1:21 gone, Brittany Esposito took Annie Hogan’s lead pass and barreled in alone on Bellamy.
However, she was tripped up by Crimson blueliner Kathryn Farni as she was getting her shot away.
That led to a string of three Huskies power plays, all of which were quashed by Harvard penalty killers.
Bellamy was able to hold the fort from then on.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Bellamy, “and we only get it at home, once [every four years]. It’s just a great feeling to be able to win it here.”