BOSTON — The Ivy League is a conference of heroes and legends, positively saturated in tradition and pride. It is an association of sportsmen and scholars, who respect history, and prefer not to cause a fuss when it comes to pursuits of an athletic persuasion.
It seems Cornell didn’t get that dispatch.
The iconoclastic Big Red (20-8-6) eviscerated the host Crimson 6-2 in front of 870 at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center in Cornell’s first-ever NCAA Tournament contest. Six different Big Red scored in the nation’s first quarterfinal, led by sophomore Chelsea Karpenko, who had a goal and two assists. Second-year goalie Amanda Mazzotta made 34 saves for her 20th win of the year.
It’s unbelievable, said Mazzotta of Cornell’s accomplishments under her watch.
Unbelievable, Karpenko echoed. It’s hard to put into words.
Harvard (20-8-5) never looked like the Frozen Four contender it has so consistently been, suffering ill-timed penalties, poor goaltending and even worse defense in the humbling affair. Senior Randi Griffin and junior Leanna Coskren scored for the Bay State Ivy. Starting goaltender Laura Bellamy made six saves before her evening – and season – came to a premature conclusion, and backup Kylie Stephens stopped six in relief.
They’re getting better, said Harvard head coach Katey Stone. They’ve got big, strong kids. It seemed like it was Dartmouth and Harvard for many years [in ECAC Hockey], and now it looks like it may be Cornell and Harvard.
After ending Cornell’s season in each of the last two years, the spunky Red returned the favor Harvard hadn’t allowed a six-spot in over four years, while it was the fourth such productive game for Cornell this year. Of the 54 goals Harvard allowed this season, 14 – over a quarter – came at the hands of the Big Red.
It’s never fun to lose, said Mazzotta of the twist-of-fate. It’s never fun for your season to end especially to Harvard.
They have as much of a chance next week as anybody, said Stone of Cornell’s chances in the Frozen Four. They’ve got the pieces of the puzzle; now it’s a matter of putting them together in the time you need to.
Cornell wasted no time putting the Crimson in its place, as a pass from defenseman Amanda Young sprung Catherine White on a clean 70-foot breakaway on Bellamy. The Big Red’s all-time leading scorer – still only a sophomore – made no mistake with the puck, dragging it to the backhand before flipping it over Bellamy’s left pad. The goal elevated White to a dozen goals and 40 points on the season, and at least one goal in 29 of her 31 games played this year.
We scored on our first shot, so we knew if we kept putting the pucks on net and driving hard, good things were going to happen, said Karpenko.
The visitors struck again only four minutes later, as White linemate Karlee Overguard victimized a porous Crimson blue line on another breakaway. Intercepting a neutral-zone pass, the Albertan winger pulled a page from White’s playbook and snuck a backhand deke by Bellamy’s glove side. It was only the second shorthanded goal surrendered by Harvard all year, and the third tallied by the Big Red.
We got the lead, and once we got that we got our feet moving and started playing better all over the ice, said fifth-year Cornell head coach Doug Derraugh. We got a couple more, and even though Harvard was playing hard, I think it was just too much for them at that point.
Harvard’s 10-6 edge in first-period shots was definitely misleading, as the Crimson failed to muster consistent offensive-zone time or earn many quality looks at Mazzotta’s net. Neither combatant had won this season when trailing after the first period; Harvard was 0-4-2 entering the game, while Cornell was 16-2-0 when leading after 20 minutes.
The Ithacans poured it on in the second period. First, winger Liz Zorn beat the Crimson for another breakaway at the five-minute mark. Zorn elected to shoot glove-side on Bellamy once more, but the right-handed senior’s forehand wrister was kicked off with the edge of Bellamy’s pad. A minute and a half later, Karpenko and defender Laura Fortino busted Harvard for a two-on-one. Karpenko beat the defense, but took herself low to Bellamy’s left. The Winnipeg winger dished the puck behind the over-committed goaltender for Fortino’s easy tap-in.
If the third goal stunned the Crimson, Melanie Jue’s follow-up 80 seconds later put Harvard on it’s back. The feed from Laura Danforth gave Jue a lot of net to look at, but her goal 8:06 into the period wasn’t nearly the last of the action. Karpenko’s 20-foot wrist shot from the left-wing dot beat Bellamy over the shoulder, and signaled an end to the beleaguered freshman’s season.
It’s very unusual for our team, to be honest, said Derraugh of his squad’s serendipitous quick-strike capabilities. They were pressing really hard early on in the game, but we got Catherine White behind and that got things rolling for us.
Harvard looked to make a little noise following Bellamy’s hook, as Griffin finally beat Mazzotta at 13:47 of the period with a beautiful power-play conversion of a Kate Buesser feed. Unfortunately, the now-four-goal differential proved a hole too deep for the storied Cambridge crew.
Stephens – a once-and-again Crimson who spent much of this year on the school’s club team, but re-joined the varsity after Christina Kessler’s season-ending injury – stepped into a no-win situation. She stopped her first shot against, a soft skimmer that was easily sticked away, but Kendice Ogilvie was the beneficiary of yet another Crimson defensive breakdown with 4:29 to play in the second frame. Her one-timer from Karpenko was a picture-perfect play, and put the Red ahead by a once-unimaginable 6-1 score.
Harvard suffered a scare of a different breed with 1:15 left in the set, as Patty Kazmaier Award candidate Liza Ryabkina hit the end-boards hard with her left knee and required assistance to get off the ice. The 15-goal junior tested the wheels during the intermission, however, and returned for the third period.
Harvard pressed hard in the third period, and play became considerably more perilous as hits got harder with each ticking second. The Crimson got one back at 13:11 of the frame as Coskren blasted another power-play salvo over Mazzotta’s right shoulder. It was the second game in a row that Cornell’s nation-leading penalty kill had allowed two goals.
Harvard fell short of the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. Cornell advances to its first Frozen Four, slated to play the victor of top-seeded Mercyhurst against eight-seed Boston University. The national semifinal will be played Friday at Ridder Arena, on the Minnesota campus.