MINNEAPOLIS — On Friday night in Minneapolis, Harvard and Minnesota renewed a rivalry that of late has seen each team go long stretches without finding the back of the net. This time it was the Crimson that came up empty, while the Gophers (9-5-0, 5-5-0 WCHA) scored in each period on their way to a 3-0 victory.
A pair of power-play goals and 30 clean minutes from each of the goalies Minnesota had in uniform keyed the outcome.
Harvard (4-3-2, 4-2-2 ECAC) had the better of play in the first period, but the Minnesota power play did the only damage on the scoreboard. Amanda Kessel got the puck back to Mira Jalosuo at the point, and with Becky Kortum providing a screen, Jalosuo beat Laura Bellamy on the stick side at 15:56. Kortum had the second assist.
“We killed off the majority of that power play, which was a little deflating at the end there,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “Most of the game, the difference was those power-play goals.”
The Gophers opened the second period with the advantage due to a penalty whistled as the first expired, and Jen Schoullis gathered a rebound and fired it into the empty net for a 2-0 lead.
“(Megan) Bozek and (Kelly) Seeler did a great job moving it around, and ‘Boz’ took a hard shot to the net, and I just happened to be back door in the right spot,” Schoullis said. “It was an easy goal.”
Minnesota, after having been outshot 11-4 in the opening frame, looked to have things well in hand at that point, until an unforeseen lineup change made things interesting. At the midpoint of the game, a Josephine Pucci slash knocked starting Gophers goalie Noora Räty out of the game, with Jenny Lura coming on in relief.
“Noora goes down and Jenny comes in after not playing a minute all year and does an excellent job and pitches a shutout,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said.
Lura finished with 10 saves, after Räty denied the first 12 shots and earned the win, improving her personal record to 8-3-0 on the season.
“I felt good once I got a couple (of shots),” Lura said. “I was just telling myself, this is just like practice.
“Harvard has always been one of the more fun teams to play, and I was saying a couple of weeks ago to my roommate that if it was any game that I would go in to play, it would be fun if it was Harvard.”
The margin grew to 3-0 when a Sarah Erickson shot caromed off of the crossbar and Schoullis was there for the follow-up.
“I think Erickson did celebrate, but it hit the crossbar,” Schoullis said. “She told me she was just saving it for me.”
The Crimson battled to the end, but they could never quite solve the Minnesota netminders.
“I’m proud of the way our kids played; they stayed on it,” Stone said. “They never backed off. We did a lot of good things. We’ve got to get to the goaltender like we did in the first period.”
At times, both teams seemed to have difficulty adjusting to the pace of their opponent.
“They’re an exceptionally fast team and they’re very tough on their forecheck, and they overall do a good job in their D-zone,” Frost said. “They just really pressured us tonight, and it took us a little while to get going.”
The two teams meet again on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. at Ridder Arena in the series finale.