No. 4 Women's Hockey Readies to Host No. 5 Cornell in NCAA Quarterfinals

No. 4 Women's Hockey Readies to Host No. 5 Cornell in NCAA Quarterfinals

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot.

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The Particulars
No. 4 Harvard, which boasts a 20-7-5 overall record, has qualified for its eighth NCAA tournament in the 10-year history of the event.  The Crimson is 10-2-1 in its last 13 games entering the NCAA postseason and is seeking the program’s sixth NCAA Frozen Four berth.
Harvard will take on fifth-seeded Cornell, which captured the ECAC Hockey tournament championship.  The winner of the game between Harvard and Cornell will face either top-seeded Mercyhurst or No. 8 seed Boston University in a semifinal matchup at the NCAA Frozen Four March 19.

Around The NCAA Tournament
The Harvard vs. Cornell game is the only contest scheduled for Friday.  The other three games, Mercyhurst vs. Boston University, Minnesota vs. Clarkson and Minnesota Duluth vs. New Hampshire, will take place Saturday afternoon.

The Crimson owns a 1-3-4 record against the teams competing in the NCAA quarterfinals. Harvard’s lone victory came at home against Minnesota Dec. 4.   

Follow From Home will provide live statistics for this weekend’s game. A free live video stream will also be available at  Glenn Conway and Matt Sawyer will have the call.

Series History Against Cornell
Harvard and Cornell have played 71 times, with the Crimson boasting a 50-18-3 advantage.  Harvard stands at 0-1-1 against the Big Red this year.  Cornell defeated Harvard, 4-3, in Ithaca, N.Y., Oct. 31, and tied the Crimson, 4-4, at Bright Hockey Center Jan. 15.
Last Time Out
Harvard fell in the ECAC Hockey semifinals, losing at Clarkson by a score of 3-2 March 5.  Kate Buesser and Liza Ryabkina each netted a goal for the Crimson, while Laura Bellamy recorded 19 saves in net.

Legendary: Head Coach Katey Stone
Katey Stone is in her 16th season as the Landry Family Head Coach for Harvard Women’s Ice Hockey, and she brings a 339-143-27 (.693) record into Friday’s game. With Harvard’s 5-1 win over Princeton Feb. 26, Stone became the all-time Division I record holder for victories, as she moved ahead of Laura Halldorson (337 wins), who coached at Minnesota and Colby.

Stone has led Harvard to all eight of its NCAA tournament appearances and has guided the Crimson to 10 Beanpot titles, as well as six ECAC Hockey regular-season titles, five ECAC Hockey tournament appearances and five Ivy League championships.

They’re Honored
Forward Kate Buesser was tabbed to the All-ECAC Hockey first team, while defender Leanna Coskren was named to the All-ECAC Hockey third team.  Freshman Jillian Dempsey was selected to the All-ECAC Hockey Rookie team.  Additionally, Randi Griffin was a finalist for ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year.  Among Ivy League award winners, Buesser earned first-team honors, while Coskren and Dempsey were named to the second team and defender Cori Bassett and goaltender Christina Kessler garnered All-Ivy League honorable mention.

Bright Spot
In 20 home games this season, Harvard owns a 14-3-3 record on home ice, and is 6-4-2 in road contests.  

To Be The Best ...
With its  3-2 loss at No. 6 Clarkson March 5, the Crimson stands at 5-3-4 against ranked foes this year.

Hot Streak
Harvard has won 10 of its last 13 games and is 10-2-1 in its last 12 contests.  

Harvard In The NCAA Tournament
The Crimson has reached the NCAA postseason eight times, reaching the Frozen Four on five occasions and the national final three times.  Harvard owns a 6-7 record in the NCAA tournament, with its last victory coming in the quarterfinal round against Dartmouth in 2008. The Crimson defeated the Big Green, 5-1, at Bright Hockey Center on March 15, 2008.

The Crimson and Big Red have never met in the NCAA tournament, but Harvard is 4-0 against Cornell in its last two postseasons.  The Crimson swept the Big Red in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals in 2008 and then again in 2009.

Harvard Against The Ivy League
The Crimson owns a 6-2-2 against opponents from the Ancient Eight this season. In its last eight games against Ivy League teams, Harvard is 6-0-2, most recently defeating Yale, 4-3, Feb. 6. The Crimson finished the season second in the Ancient Eight to Cornell after winning the conference crown in each of the last two seasons.  

License to Kill
The Crimson boasts the nation’s sixth-best penalty kill unit, stopping 116 of 129 opponent power plays (.899). The Crimson also has a shorthanded goal to its credit this season, coming off the stick of Jillian Dempsey in a 4-0 win over Union Jan. 22.  

Clean Sheets
With its 1-0 win over Northeastern in the Beanpot final Feb. 9, Harvard now has recorded seven shutouts this season. Laura Bellamy has earned three clean sheets, as she also shut down Union Jan. 22 and Boston College Feb. 2. Six of the Crimson’s seven shutouts have come at Bright Hockey Center. Senior Christina Kessler has  recorded 25 shutouts during her career at Harvard, a program record.

First Thing’s First
Harvard is 17-2-2 when netting the game’s first goal and 3-5-3 when the opposition scores first.

Crimson Leading The League
Kate Buesser, who was twice named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week this season,was second in ECAC Hockey with 32 points in conference games and was second in assists with 20.  Buesser was also fifth with 12 goals in ECAC Hockey contests.  Rookie Jillian Dempsey (10-11-21) ranked tied for eighth in conference points among all players and second among freshmen in the league.  

Defender Leanna Coskren was tied for first with 11 power-play points (4-7-11),was tied for seventh with four power-play goals and stood tied for third with three game-winning tallies to her credit. Coskren was fourth among defenders with 16 points (6-10-16). Cori Bassett stood third in defender scoring with 17 points on four goals and 13 assists.  She was also tied for sixth among all skaters with 13 assists.

Tip Of The Caps
Liza Ryabkina and Randi Griffin have each recorded a hat trick this season, both counting as natural hat tricks. Ryabkina netted four goals, including three in the third period, against Boston College in the Beanpot semifinal Feb. 2. Griffin lit the lamp three times in the second period at Clarkson Feb. 20.

When The Game Is On The Line
Nine different Harvard players have scored a game-winning goal this season -- Kaitlin Spurling, Liza Ryabkina, Jillian Dempsey, Leanna Coskren, Anna McDonald, Cori Bassett, Kathryn Farni, Kate Buesser and Randi Griffin.  Ryabkina, Spurling and Griffin have a team-best four game winners to their credit, while Coskren has notched three to lead Harvard blue liners.

Scoring In A Bunch
As a team, Harvard ranked second in ECAC Hockey with 3.14 goals per game, having scored 69 tallies in 22 conference games. The Crimson averaged 3.60 goals per contest in Ivy League games, good for first in the Ancient Eight.  

A Balanced Attack
The Crimson has had 14 different players score at least one goal this year, as the team has netted a total of 92 goals.  Sixteen players have at least one point to their credit.

Storied Program
With its 3-0 victory over St. Lawrence Nov. 7, Harvard earned the 500th victory in program history.  The Crimson owns a 518-294-43 (.631) record over its storied 31-year history.

Spreading The Puck Around
The Crimson has 11 players who have reached double digits in points: Kate Buesser (39 points), Jillian Dempsey (27), Liza Ryabkina (22), Randi Griffn (20), Leanna Coskren (18), Cori Bassett (18), Anna McDonald (17), Kathryn Farni (15),  Josephine Pucci (13), Kaitlin Spurling (12), and Katharine Chute (10).

Just Win, Christina!
Senior goaltender Christina Kessler is 64-16-6 (.779) in her career in net, placing her first on Harvard’s all-time goalie wins, as she passed Ali Boe ’06 with a 5-1 victory against Colgate Jan. 16.  Kessler currently holds the NCAA career record with a .9413 save percentage, as she has stopped 1,863 of 1,979 shots faced during her career.  Jessie Vetter (Wisconsin 2006-09) owned a .941 save percentage to set the record (2,175 of 2,312, .9407).

Beanpot Returns To Cambridge
The Crimson scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over No. 9 Northeastern at Bright Hockey Center Feb. 9, as Harvard captured its 13th Beanpot title.  Liza Ryabkina netted the game-winner, giving her five goals for the tournament and was named unanimously as the Beanpot MVP.  In net, Laura Bellamy recorded her second straight tournament shutout, making 27 saves.  For her effort, Bellamy took home the Bertagna Award, given to the Beanpot’s top goaltender.

It’s All Over
Harvard is 111-2-6 (.958) since the start of the 2004-05 season when leading after two periods. The Crimson is 17-1-2 (.900) in this category this season. Harvard’s lone loss came at Rensselaer Feb. 12, as the Crimson fell, 3-2, in overtime after holding a 2-0 lead in the third period.  The Crimson led, 1-0, through two periods of play.

Stopping The Puck
Since stepping into the starting role, goaltender Laura Bellamy stands sixth in the country with a 1.42 goals-against average, while boasting the nation’s eighth-best save percentage (320 of 343, .933).  She owns a 10-4-2 record good for a winning percentage of .688, tied for the seventh highest mark in the country. Christina Kessler ranks fifth with a save percentage of .944 (351 of 372) and stands seventh with a 1.39 goals-against average.  

Kylie Stephens earned her first start of the season Feb. 13, picking up the victory in Harvard’s 2-1 win at Union. Stephens made 13 saves and has a 2.65 goals-against average on the season.

The World’s Best
Five former Harvard standouts competed for their countries at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  Two-time Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Jennifer Botterill ’02-03 and Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-09, who was the recipient of the trophy in 2008, captured the gold medal with Team Canada.  Angela Ruggiero ’02-04, who took home the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2004, Julie Chu ’06-07, winner of the trophy in 2007, and Caitlin Cahow ’07-08 claimed the silver medal while skating for Team USA.

Overall, Harvard has had nine current and former women’s hockey players represent their countries in the Olympics since 1998.

Welcome To The Show
Harvard freshmen have had the scoring touch this season, led by Jillian Dempsey who is second on the team with 11 goals, 16 assists and 27 points.  Josephine Pucci (4-9-13) and Kaitlin Spurling (9-3-12) have also been scoring threats.  Spurling is also tied for first on the team with four game-winning goals.

What A Finish
In her final regular season game, Randi Griffin recorded the first hat trick of her career, netting three straight goals within 10:07 of each other in the second period in the 3-3 tie at Clarkson Feb. 20.  A day earlier, Griffin scored on a penalty shot at St. Lawrence Feb. 19 and was honored as ECAC Hockey Player of the Week for her effort.

A Stone Wall
The Crimson earned back-to-back shutouts against Minnesota Dec. 4-5, marking the first time that the Golden Gophers were held scoreless since Feb. 2, 2007.  The Crimson had not recorded consecutive shutouts since holding Cornell without a goal during the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals Feb. 27-28, 2009.    

Red Lights
Harvard ranks third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 1.50 goals per game.  The Crimson also ranks fourth in scoring margin (+1.38), sixth on the penalty kill (116 of 129, .899), seventh in combined special teams (141 of 266, .530) and 10th in scoring offense (2.88 goals scored per game).  Harvard has also been successful on the power play, scoring 17.9 percent of the time (25 of 137), good for the 11th-best mark in the country.

Crimson Among The Nation’s Best
With 0.72 assists per game, Kate Buesser ranks 15th in the nation in this category.  Buesser also stands 20th with 1.22 points per contest. Liza Ryabkina, Randi Griffin and Kaitlin Spurling all have four game-winning goals, tying them for 16th, while at the blue line, Cori Bassett and Coskren are averaging 0.56 points per game, placing them tied for 18th.  Among all rookies, Jillian Dempsey stands 10th with 0.84 points per contest.  Randi Griffin is tied for 17th with six power-play goals to her credit.

Solid Start
In 16 career starts, Laura Bellamy owns an 10-4-2 record with three shutouts. She has won 10 of her last 11 games in net, including the Beanpot championship Feb. 9, and stopped a career-high 37 shots in 4-1 win at Dartmouth Jan. 29.

Shining All-Stars
Seniors Cori Bassett and Anna McDonald and junior Kate Buesser each earned a spot on the ECAC Hockey All-Star Team, which faced the U.S. Women’s Hockey National Team in an exhibition game Jan. 3.  McDonald scored a goal, while Bassett and Buesser each had an assist.

Hall Of Fame Worthy
The 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team, which included three former Crimson players, and was led by head coach Ben Smith ’68, was recently enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Dec. 1. The 1998 U.S. women’s roster included former Harvard skaters Sandra Whyte ’92, A.J. Mleczko ’97-99 and Angela Ruggiero ’02-04. The team was inducted at The Westin Boston Waterfront hotel in Boston.

Trophy Case
Christina Kessler made 15 saves for the shutout in Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team’s 9-0 victory over Switzerland in the gold-medal game of the 2010 MLP Cup, held in Ravensburg, Germany Jan. 4-9.

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