Potsdam, NY – With a potential overtime looming, sophomore Gabrielle Kosziwka (Limehouse, ONT) redirected a slap shot with 2:07 remaining in the third period as the Clarkson University Women’s Hockey team defeated Harvard University, 3-2, in ECAC Hockey semifinal action Friday night at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights, who improved to 23-10-5 on the season, advance to their first-ever ECAC Hockey Championship game and will travel to play top-seeded Cornell University on Sunday. The two teams split the season series, with each team winning at home. Fourth-ranked Harvard fell to 20-7-5 overall and now will wait to see if it will gain an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In the early minutes, both teams came out skating hard, but that intensity kept either team from possessing the puck for long. Harvard finally got off a shot two and a half minutes into the contest, a soft flip that Clarkson goaltender Lauren Dahm (Baldwinsville, NY) stopped easily. Clarkson’s first true scoring attempt was a legitimate one as sophomore Juana Baribeau (Amos, QUE) blasted a shot high from the top of the left circle.
While Baribeau’s shot didn’t amount to anything, Clarkson’s first shot on goal gave the Golden Knights an early lead. After passes from the blue line, junior Daris Tendler (Verwood, SASK) gathered in the puck near the top of the slot. Her hard shot then handcuffed Harvard goalie Laura Bellamy, and the puck bounded over the top of her shoulder and fluttered in the air into the back of the net at 6:07. Baribeau and Kosziwka each assisted on the goal.
Both teams had solid chances in the final half of the first period. Senior Genevieve Lavoie (Delson, QUE) had a good chance stopped by Bellamy from the bottom of the right circle with just under nine minutes to go. Just a minute and a half later, Harvard junior Kate Buesser headed a 3-on-2 rush with a shot from the inside of the left circle, but the shot sailed harmlessly high. Also, the Crimson enjoyed nearly three minutes on the power play in the opening frame, but Harvard was unable to put any shots on the Clarkson goal over that time.
Harvard controlled the second period with two goals midway through the period, but it took some time to get the offense rolling. Randi Griffin was denied on a 2-on-1 by Dahm six minutes in, and the Knights were likewise unlikely just a minute later when Kali Gillanders (Kyle, SASK) shot sailed wide on an odd-player rush. However, the Crimson was able to tie up the score at 8:51. Freshman defenseman Josephine Pucci sent a pass from between the blue line and the top of the left circle through the Clarkson defense to Buesser, who needed to extend her stick to corral the pass. The effort was entirely necessary as Buesser was just able to tip the puck into the open side of the Clarkson goal. Deborah Conway also assisted.
After a pair of shots from Gillanders were turned aside at 9:30 and 12:48, the only two shots on goal for Clarkson in the period up to that point, the Knights were whistled for back-to-back penalties just 28 seconds apart. Harvard, skating on a 5-on-3 didn’t take long to produce with the extra skaters, as Liza Ryabkina was able to bat home her own rebound from in close at the 14:07 mark, with Anna McDonald and Jillian Dempsey each assisting on the score.
Trailing 2-1 and getting shut down offensively, Clarkson shifted the momentum in the final minutes of the second period. Sophomore center Brittany Mulligan (London, ONT) blocked a shot with her pads near the blue line and then out skated two Harvard players to the loose puck. Narrowly eluding the defense by half a stride, Mulligan was able to get a shot off on the Harvard goal, flipping the puck over Bellamy’s left shoulder with a backhand shot at 17:36 for her fifth goal of the season.
The Knights opened the third period on the power play after a quick penalty on the Crimson. Harvard survived, but its penalty kill was tested as Clarkson had numerous near misses, including two slap shots that went wide, a tipped shot that was saved by Bellamy, and two passes that glided through the slot, barely missing their intended targets. Five minutes later, Clarkson had another chance on a 2-on-1 as Britney Selina (Thornhill, ONT) lined up and ripped a shot at Bellamy from the top of the left circle. Bellamy deflected the shot with her glove, nearly catching the blast, but the puck bounced out in front and was covered up when both teams crashed the net on the rebound.
Harvard’s best chance came late in the period when a seemingly harmless shot bounded off Dahm and created a second chance for the Crimson. Fortunately, for the Knights the puck was cleared before another quality chance could occur.
Just when it appeared as if overtime was inevitable, the Knights struck for the game-winning goal. Kosziwka won the face off in the Harvard end in the right circle and played the puck back to the defense. From there, sophomore Katelyn Ptolemy (Dinsmore, SASK) took a slap shot at the Harvard goal, but Kosziwka redirected the shot through the legs of Bellamy just six seconds after the faceoff.
Harvard pulled Bellamy for an extra attacker for the final minute, but Dahm was able to brush aside a single shot on goal, as well as a few wide attempts on the Clarkson net.
Dahm finished with 23 saves, improving to 2-0-1 on the season against Harvard. Bellamy made 19 saves for the Crimson. Harvard went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Clarkson was held without a goal in two power-play chances.