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Huskies headed to TD Garden: Northeastern defends one-goal lead to defeat Harvard in Beanpot semifinals

Harriet Rovniak
Northeastern’s Skylar Irving takes the faceoff against Harvard captain Shannon Hollands. Irving notched a team-high nine shots on goal in Tuesday’s Women’s Beanpot semifinals.

In the 45th Women’s Beanpot semifinals, Northeastern (14-9-1, 8-7-1 HE) owned the night. 

The Huskies traveled to Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center Tuesday night for the competition, bringing a crowd of friends, family and fans, who dominated the atmosphere with cheers for the away team. The support bolstered the Huskies to a 1-0 win over Harvard (3-15-1, 1-11-1 ECAC), and, while the score was tight, Northeastern greatly outplayed the Crimson the entire 60 minutes. 

“[I’m] really proud of the group [for] how we banded together and held on to a one-nothing lead,” said graduate student defender and captain Megan Carter. “It’s going to be really important for us down the stretch to be able to do that and manage games like that.”

The Huskies were faster and fiercer than the Crimson. Harvard’s transitions, in rare moments of possession, were sloppy, making it easy for Northeastern to intercept their neutral zone passes and turn over the puck. Meanwhile, the Huskies passed cleanly across the ice, pushing into Harvard’s zone with a strong forecheck and using their agility to maintain control. 

Six minutes into the game, a body checking penalty on Huskies junior defender Tory Mariano gave Harvard its first attempt on Northeastern’s net. However, playing against the second-ranked penalty kill unit in the country is no easy feat, and fifth-year goaltender Gwyneth Philips shut down each of the Crimson’s limited attempts. 

Halfway through the period, the Huskies got their own chance with the man-advantage. Sophomore forward Mia Langlois earned a near-breakaway, but Harvard sophomore defender Kate Kasica hooked her from behind and secured a one-way ticket to the penalty box. 

In between the pipes, Harvard junior goaltender Alex Pellicci couldn’t catch a break. The Huskies were fierce, and while the Crimson were able to clear the puck rather consistently midway through the two-minute minor, Northeastern found another way in.

With three seconds left on the power play, Mariano fired in a shot from the point. On the doorstep, junior forward Taze Thompson, a transfer from Harvard, sliced the puck down past Pellicci to give Northeastern the 1-0 lead. 

As the period wound down, Harvard grew frustrated. The team could hardly get control of the puck, much less get a quality shot. Scuffles began to break out in the crease, and Northeastern fifth-year forward Katy Knoll seemed to take the brunt of it.

In the first period, Harvard notched just four shots, and its game didn’t get any better. Northeastern kept the Crimson’s shots-on-goal total in the single digits, with another four in the second and a measly one direct shot in the final frame for a collective nine attempts. 

“Harvard is a very good team and they got some chances on us, but I thought we were locked down and really stuck to our systems,” Carter said. “That’s been an area of emphasis for us over the last few games, so to pull that together in this game was really important.”

Meanwhile, Northeastern blasted its way through 39 shots.

Pellicci kept Harvard in the game, making stellar saves and putting up a wall against Northeastern’s offense to maintain just a one-goal difference. 

“It could’ve been a four- or five-nothing game, I think, if their goalie wasn’t really good tonight,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint.

Harvard tried to get on top early in the second period, breaking out into Northeastern’s zone, but the Huskies won all the board battles and the Crimson couldn’t get around Northeastern’s defense. 

However, they held up their own back end well when Northeastern got a second power play opportunity. Although sophomore forward Avery Anderson had drawn the penalty and delayed it with some deking and dancing with the puck until Northeastern could get a shot off, once the two-minute countdown began, Harvard fought back.

The Crimson gained some zone time despite their skater-deficit, weakening the Huskies’ advantage. Unlike the first power play, Northeastern couldn’t make a single shot, and Harvard’s .619 penalty kill — the worst in the NCAA — shined a little brighter. 

In the final few minutes of the second period, Harvard turned up the jets. Three of the Crimson’s four shots in the period came in those final two minutes, as they circled like sharks around the Huskies’ net. 

Despite Harvard’s rallying cry at the close of the middle frame, when the final period started, it was clearly Northeastern’s game. The Huskies couldn’t find the right angle to extend their lead despite their relentless attempts. 

The team rejoices after Taze Thompson scores the game-winning goal in the first round of the Women’s Beanpot. Northeastern and Boston University were the two semifinal winners and will head to the chapionship round Jan. 23. (Harriet Rovniak)

Northeastern saw another strong power play, even skimming the post on a shot from sophomore defender Jules Constantinople, but the Crimson’s PK unit tightened up to take the pressure off of Pellicci. Harvard’s defense took 30 blocks throughout the game, nearly the same amount Pellicci did.

With just a few minutes left in the game, Northeastern was bearing down on Harvard’s net, desperately seeking a second goal. Pellicci looked back and forth between the bench and the ice, waiting for the moment she’d be pulled in favor of the extra attacker. 

Pellicci was finally able to leave the net with less than two minutes left on the clock, but her rest  was short-lived. The Huskies were seeking the empty net, gaining zone time as they fought for it, and Harvard was forced to clear the puck. 

With an impending defensive-zone faceoff, Pellicci returned, and the Crimson struggled to get out of their zone. 

In the final 10 seconds, they made a last-ditch effort to put the sixth skater on the ice, but it was too late. Northeastern was victorious.

Some of Northeastern’s younger skaters stepped up in the semifinal matchup. The third line of Langlois, sophomore Lily Brazis and freshman Ella Blackmore nearly lit the lamp quite a few times, with Blackmore tallying half of the line’s 12 shots.

“They’re just creating,” Flint said. “I think they want to score some more goals, but those will come. They’re getting a lot of good chances and good looks at the net and I think the biggest part is they’ve been better defensively and that’s why we’ve given them more responsibilities.”

The women’s hockey team will head to TD Garden Jan. 23 for the first time in Beanpot history to play Boston University (9-10-3, 7-8-1 HE) in the Beanpot championship. The Terriers defeated the tournament-favorite Boston College Eagles (12-7-3, 11-3-3 HE) in an upset win, taking the shootout victory after holding a 3-3 tie through two overtime periods. 

“We may have beat [BU] three times, but it really doesn’t matter when we play them next week,” Carter said. “Everyone is going to bring their A-game and we could see a totally different hockey team … but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Northeastern will seek to earn its second-straight Beanpot title when the puck drops at 8 p.m

About the Contributors
Amelia Ballingall
Amelia Ballingall, Sports Editor
Amelia Ballingall is a third-year speech language pathology and audiology major. She is sports editor for The News and previously served as deputy sports editor and deputy design editor. She is also vice president of membership development for Delta Phi Epsilon, the social media manager for Speech and Hearing Club and a Student Success Guide on campus. Amelia is looking forward to another great semester with The News!
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