January 26, 2011

Women's Journal: Harvard sweeps up at home

by Mike Zhe

Harvard senior forward Kate Buesser (Wolfeboro, N.H.) scored her team-high seventh goal of the season Saturday against Union. (photo: Gil Talbot)

Maybe no team was as eager for — or deserving of — a homestand this month than Harvard.

And it certainly capitalized.

Two straight weekend sweeps of ECAC Hockey rivals at the Bright Center have the Crimson (10-7-2, 9-3-2 ECAC Hockey) on a four-game win streak, in second place in the league behind No. 2 Cornell and just outside the top 10 in the national polls.

Harvard beat Rensselaer and Union over the weekend. The week before, it was a sweep of North Country foes St. Lawrence and Clarkson. In those four games, the Crimson allowed a total of four goals.

Not bad for a team that entered the holiday break below .500 and struggling to keep the puck out of its own net. Of course, playing 11 of its first 15 games on the road — against a list of heavyweights that included Cornell, Minnesota (twice), Boston College and Boston University — had something to do with that.

In a 2-1 win over RPI, Liza Ryabkina and Kalley Armstrong scored three minutes apart in the second period to open a two-goal lead. Ryabkina’s goal, off a set-up from Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.) after a steal, was her team-high seventh of the season.

In a 4-0 win over Union on Saturday, the Crimson made it easy in front of goalie Laura Bellamy, who needed to make only 10 saves. Kelsey Romatoski and Dempsey scored first-period goals, and Kate Buesser (Wolfeboro, N.H.) matched Ryabkina with her seventh tally of the season on a power play in the third period.

Bellamy, who was thrust into action last season when Christina Kessler suffered a season-ending injury, has her save percentage up to .887 and appears to be the goalie the Crimson will ride.

Games at Brown and Yale this weekend may not tell us much, but 12 days in February sure will: home games against Princeton and No. 10 Quinnipiac, and then a trip to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, with Beanpot games against Northeastern and either No. 3 BU or No. 8 BC mixed in.

NEHJ Player of the Week

Genevieve Lacasse, jr., Providence

The Friars’ standout backstop turned aside 51 shots in a 3-1 win over BC Friday. She followed that up with a 35-save effort in a 2-1 win over Northeastern. Overall, she stopped 86 of 88 shots and helped the Friars climb into a third-place tie with UConn.

Looking Ahead

UConn vs. Boston University, Friday and Saturday

Thanks to its five-game win streak, the Huskies have surged into a tie for third place in Hockey East. Of course, the wins came against three teams — Robert Morris, Vermont and Maine — with a combined record of 21-40-13. We should have a better idea how to regard UConn after this weekend. It plays the third-ranked Terriers in a home-and-home, starting Friday in Boston.

Around Hockey East

UConn goalie Alexandra Garcia was every bit as stingy as Lacasse in the Huskies’ sweep of Maine, stopping 54 of 55 pucks. Kelly Horan had a goal in each win and Jennifer Chiasson became the fourth player in program to reach the 80-point plateau with a goal and assist on the weekend. …

New Hampshire is showing signs of life, topping then-No. 9 Northeastern in overtime, 4-3. Kayley Herman made a career-high 40 saves and defenseman Courtney Birchard scored her second straight game-winner at Matthews Arena. …

Abby Gauthier (Lynn, Mass.) had a key game-tying goal in Providence’s 3-1 in over BC, redirecting a shot by Amber Yung. Freshman Rebecca Morse and Kate Bacon also tallied for the Friars, while BC’s Kelli Stack scored her league-best 24th goal in a losing cause. …

BU’s 4-0 blanking of Vermont on Saturday was the 100th win in program history. Freshman Marie-Philip Poulin set a single-season BU points record when she notched her 40th, breaking the mark set last season by Melissa Anderson.

Around ECAC Hockey

Seven different players scored goals for Dartmouth in its home weekend sweep of Union (5-1) and RPI (3-0). Camille Dumais had a goal in each game and goalie Lindsay Holdcroft needed to make just 17 saves in the two games to earn the wins. The Big Green also won a nonconference game at Vermont earlier in the week and have now won three straight. …

Goalie Jackee Snikeris was the tough-luck loser for Yale in losses to Clarkson (2-1 in overtime) and St. Lawrence (2-0). She stopped 70 of 74 shots. Aurora Kennedy had the Bulldogs’ only goal. …

Quinnipiac bounced back from a 2-1 loss at Wayne State on Friday to salvage a weekend split with a 3-0 win. Kate Wheeler scored twice and Victoria Vigilanti made 20 saves to earn her sixth shutout of the season. …

Brown’s winless streak hit an unlucky 13 with losses at St. Lawrence (4-2) and Clarkson (5-3). The Bears’ last win came Nov. 13 against RPI.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com