In a rematch of the 2022 Beanpot Championship Final, the Harvard women's ice hockey (7-15-3, 6-10-3 ECAC) team traversed the Charles River to take on Boston College (17-12-1, 14-10-0 HEA) in the opening round of the 2023 Beanpot. Even with the two teams trending in opposite directions record-wise, both coaches recognized the heightened importance that comes with a Beanpot match.
"It's nice to beat them," said BC head coach Katie Crowley about the Crimson. "It's always going to be a tough one. It's always going to be a good, hard-fought battle no matter who you are playing against."
"It's a great rivalry," said Harvard head coach Katey Stone. "You want to respect them, and you want to be ready."
This time, it was the Eagles who came out on top in the rivalry. BC took the lead with an early goal by Cayla Barnes and never looked back. After closing out the first period with a one-goal lead, the Eagles piled it on in the second, as they shut out the Crimson and skated to a 3-0 win.
Harvard's first good look at the net came only two minutes into the game. The chance came as first-year forward Sophie Ensley was able to fire in a shot from close that BC goalie Abigail Levy saved. A little over a minute later, the Eagles got onto the board first, thanks to a brilliant pass from forward Caroline Goffredo to defender Cayla Barnes. Goffredo's cross-ice pass barely evaded the stick of junior forward Shannon Hollands before finding Barnes, who directed it into the top right corner. Despite the goal, the Crimson's offensive effort continued to put pressure on BC in the first. At the end of the frame, the Eagles only held a one-shot lead on Harvard. Some of the Crimson's best looks came late in the first after BC was assessed a two-minute minor for hooking. During the power play, senior forwards Anne Bloomer and Kristin Della Rovere sent shots on goal, but they were unable to beat Levy
Looking to erase the one-goal deficit, Harvard's first line came out firing on all cylinders to start the second. Sophomore forward Gabi Davidson Adams almost got the Crimson on the board three minutes into the second frame. After an intercepted pass kept the puck in the offensive zone, Bloomer threaded a pass between several defenders to Davidson Adams, who could not direct the pass on net and missed wide. A few minutes later, Bloomer got her own chance to light the lamp. Following a pass by Della Rovere, Bloomer fired a shot on goal that Levy, the reigning Bertagna Award winner as the best Beanpot goalie, bottled up.
The rest of the period, however, belonged to BC. Seconds after a shot from Kate Ham hit the pipe, the Eagles got its insurance goal. After sophomore goalie Alex Pellicci saved a shot, the Harvard defense was unable to fully clear the puck from its defensive zone. As the puck drifted toward the blue line, BC defender Keri Clougherty picked up the puck and laced a slapshot into the back of the goal to net her first career goal. A Harvard interference penalty later in the period gave the Eagles another chance to get on the board on the power play However, the Crimson were able to keep the puck out of its defensive zone and kill the penalty. Unfortunately for the Crimson, a second penalty later in the period would prove too much as BC notched its third goal in the final seconds of the second. Defender Sidney Fess scored when her long-range slap snipe bounced into the back right corner of the net as Pellicci could only get a piece of the puck.
The Crimson's second penalty was a point of contention for both coaches. After a long deliberation among the referees that included a video review, sophomore forward Ellie Bayard was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for head contact.
"As soon as you're questioning it, you should probably take a look at it," said Crowley about the referee's decision to review the Bayard penalty. "I think they made the right call there."
"To me, it was a hard hockey play," Stone said.
Even though it was staring down a 3-0 deficit entering the third period, Harvard kept pushing throughout the full 60 minutes. The Crimson power play generated quality chances on both of its opportunities in the third frame. Harvard's best chance came off a faceoff win halfway through the period. Following the faceoff win by Della Rovere, senior captains Kyra Willoughby and Bloomer each launched shots that made Levy work to keep the shutout intact. As a testament to its continued effort, the Crimson pulled its goalie with three minutes left in the game.
“I'm really proud of how hard our kids played for 60 minutes," Stone said. "[Boston College] earned the win tonight, but I certainly think we gave them a heck of an effort."
No matter the outcome, the spectacle surrounding the Beanpot makes it a special moment for players.
"I grew up going to all the games," said Ensley about the impact of the Beanpot on her childhood. "A lot of my close friends who I grew up playing with are a part of the Boston team, so it is special to get to play with them."
The Beanpot is also noteworthy for those not native to the area, like Willoughby.
"Definitely top three," said the Minnesota native about where playing in the Beanpot ranks among her hockey experiences.
Before facing Boston University in the Beanpot Consolation game on Feb. 14, Harvard will look to earn crucial points in the ECAC standings during its matchup against Clarkson (22-8-2, 11-6-1) on Feb. 10.