No. 9 Harvard Skates to 1-0 Victory Over No. 2 Minnesota

No. 9 Harvard Skates to 1-0 Victory Over No. 2 Minnesota

Pictured: Liza Ryabkina has scored the game-winning goal in the last two Harvard victories.
Photo courtesy: David Silverman Photography

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Forward Liza Ryabkina netted the game’s only goal and goaltender Christina Kessler stopped 24 shots between the pipes as the ninth-ranked Harvard women’s hockey team shut down No.2 Minnesota, 1-0, Friday evening at Bright Hockey Center. With the victory, Harvard extends its win streak to four games and earns its first victory over a WCHA opponent since defeating Minnesota Duluth, 4-0, Dec. 2, 2006.

In the first period, Harvard (7-3-1) was outshot by Minnesota (13-3-1), 9-5, but the Crimson had the key play in the frame, as Cori Bassett broke up a breakaway chance by Minnesota’s Chelsey Jones. With Harvard on a power play, the Gophers cleared the zone, creating a scoring opportunity by Jones. As Jones skated in alone against Kessler, Bassett made a diving poke check to prevent a shot on net by Jones.

Late in the second period, Minnesota was whistled for roughing at 18:32, but the Crimson could not muster a goal before time ran out in the frame. The power play extended into first 32 seconds of the third period and Harvard won the face-off to open the stanza. The Crimson dumped the puck into the Minnesota zone and Jillian Dempsey skated into the right corner to grab possession. With the power-play expiring, Dempsey flipped a pass toward the front of the net. Ryabkina tipped the puck between goaltender Noora Raty’s legs and into the lower left corner, giving Harvard a 1-0 lead at 0:33.

The Crimson continued to earn scoring chances later in the third, as a one-timer by Dempsey was turned aside by Raty, and a breakway attempt by Kate Buesser was stopped by Raty’s blocker. With 2:15 remaining in the game, Ryabkina nearly give Harvard a 2-0 advantage, but her shot from the left side slid through the crease without crossing the goal line.

Kessler made nine saves in each of the first two periods to earn her third shutout of the season. The clean sheet also marked the first time Minnesota was shut out since the 2006-07 campaign. Kessler, who has amassed 62 wins in her Crimson career, is now one victory shy of tying Ali Boe ’06 for first on Harvard’s all-time wins list. Harvard stopped all four of Minnesota’s power plays, extending its streak of holding an opponent scoreless with an extra attacker to 22 consecutive chances.

The Crimson and Golden Gophers will play again at Bright Hockey Center Saturday at 4 p.m.