February 3, 2012

Women's Journal: Bellamy the backbone at Harvard

By Scott Sudikoff

Harvard junior goaltender Laura Bellamy has been the backbone of the Crimson women’s hockey program since the mid-point of the 2009-10 season. It was then, during her freshman season, that she was thrust into a starting role after a season-ending injury to All-American Christina Kessler. 

Crimson goalie Laura Bellamy has blanked ECAC opponents in four of her last five starts. (Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletics)

Bellamy had big shoes to fill, as Kessler is the all-time wins leader in Harvard history, and also holds the NCAA record for save percentage in a career.

“It was definitely unfortunate and tough to see but that first half of the year she was just a great mentor,” said Bellamy, a native of Duluth, Minn. “She just showed me what it meant to be competitive in practice every day.”

Bellamy has mimicked Kessler’s abilities to the tune of a 1.91 goals-against average this season, along with a .918 save percentage.

“The way she’s technically sound to a T is definitely something I aspire to be like.”

Bellamy also recently had an 11-period shutout streak, which was the longest such streak for a Harvard goalie since Kessler in the 2007-08 season.

“(Kessler’s) work ethic is something that she definitely brought (to the table) and she showed me how important that was,” added Bellamy. “Hopefully, she’ll make a run at the next Olympics.”

Bellamy’s work ethic and team leadership skills earned her a role as an assistant captain during the 2011-12 campaign. She also credits her success this season between the pipes to Harvard’s new goalie coach, Mark Hanson.

“His knowledge and teaching ability has been invaluable to me,” said Bellamy. “He’s been very fun to work with and he’s the kind of guy who would be around a rink 24/7 if he could.”

Hanson’s help has led Bellamy to career-best numbers in goal as well as a pair of ECAC Goalie of the Week awards. The most recent honor came this past week after back-to-back shutouts of Yale and Brown. She has now posted four shutouts in her last five league victories.

The one question that many people have for an Ivy League athlete is how are they able to balance athletics and academics. For Bellamy, she believes they go hand-in-hand.

“It’s definitely time management (that’s the key), but I think all of us on the team would agree having hockey pushes us to stay on top of our academics,” said Bellamy. “The days we have off, I seem to not get as much done, school-work wise.”

Harvard is currently in second place in the ECAC at 14-7-1 overall and 11-4-1 in conference.

“We’ve felt pretty good about the way things are going,” said Bellamy. “The next three games are going to be huge.”

Bellamy and the Crimson have a key weekend at home against ECAC foes Quinnipiac and Princeton before they play in the Beanpot consolation game on Tuesday evening.

“Although we are playing in the third-place game, it’s a great opportunity to play Boston College,” she said.

Games of the Week

Quinnipiac at Harvard, Friday; Quinnipiac at Dartmouth, Saturday 

These two games will go a long way in deciding who finishes in second place to Cornell in the ECAC. All three teams have played the same amount of games and the Crimson have a one-point lead on both the Bobcats and Big Green.

The Bobcats tied Harvard, 3-3, on Jan. 7. The day before they dropped a 3-2 decision to Dartmouth.

Around the region

Brown (7-9-7, 4-8-4 ECAC) got Sarah Robson’s first-career hat trick in a Jan. 24 victory over Yale, 4-1. The Bears then played both Dartmouth and Harvard close. … Connecticut (3-18-7, 2-10-3 WHEA) has a chance to spoil Northeastern’s fun on Saturday before hosting New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon. … Maine (13-8-6, 7-6-2 WHEA) has earned points in four-straight league games behind the play of goaltender Brittany Ott, who was named Hockey East Goalie of the Month for January. … New Hampshire (10-15-3, 4-9-2 WHEA) moves into February on a hot streak having won four of six games, including a victory over BU. The Wildcats host the Terriers again on Saturday afternoon. … Providence (11-15-3, 8-7-1 WHEA) plays four of its final five games on the road, with two vs. Northeastern and one against BC. … Quinnipiac (15-10-2, 10-4-2) split a pair of games with Syracuse last weekend leading into a big league weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth. … Sacred Heart (8-14-1 independent) swept a pair of games from Rhode Island last weekend and has this weekend off before returning to action on Feb. 10 against Oswego State. … Vermont (4-16-6, 3-10-2 WHEA) received a game-winning goal from Erin Wente against UNH on Sunday that they hope will propel them into a weekend series at Maine. … Yale (1-22-0, 1-15-0 ECAC) senior forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) was named one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award on Wednesday for her work with the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.

New England women’s power rankings

1. Boston College (18-7-3, 11-3-2 WHEA) ... Eagles are ranked No. 4 in the country but are coming off a pair of ties. The second of which was in Tuesday’s Beanpot, where they lost the shootout to Northeastern. BC gets the nod over Northeastern due to a pair of head-to-head victories.

2. Northeastern (17-6-3, 11-3-2 WHEA) ... The No. 7 Huskies are tied for first place in Hockey East with BC and will play for the Beanpot championship on Tuesday against host Boston University.

3. Harvard (14-7-1, 11-4-1 ECAC) … The No. 8 Crimson were disappointed with the 5-2 loss to BU in the Beanpot, but before that they had won five of six games. With a pair of home games this weekend, Harvard has a chance to cushion its lead for second place in the ECAC.

4. Dartmouth (14-6-2, 10-4-2 ECAC) Dartmouth is ranked No. 10 in the country and is a point behind the Crimson in the ECAC standings. The Big Green are 8-1-1 in the last 10 games and much like the Crimson they host Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend.

5. Boston University (15-12-1, 9-7-0 WHEA) ... Senior Jenn Wakefield earned the Hockey East Player of the Month for January with eight goals and seven assists. She hopes her Terriers can claim their first Beanpot championship as a varsity program this coming Tuesday.

Scott Sudikoff can be reached at feedback@hoceyjournal.com.