Harvard returns to the National Championship game for the fourth time in program history on Sunday. (Photo: Jim Rosvold)
MINNEAPOLIS – The Harvard women's hockey team will play in its fourth National Championship game in program history on Sunday, after the Crimson (27-5-3) defeated crosstown rival Boston College (34-3-2), 2-1, in the semifinals of the 2015 Frozen Four in Ridder Arena. As the No. 3 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, Harvard is set to make its first appearance in the title game since 2005 thanks to the grueling victory against second-seeded BC.
Harvard will square off with Minnesota for the 2015 National Championship at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday in a sold-out Ridder Arena.
On Friday, the Crimson displayed a team effort on each end of the ice, but the play of netminder Emerance Maschmeyer was paramount in earning the victory, as the junior turned aside a season-high 43 saves on the night to keep the nation's most potent offense in check. The play of the defensemen in front of her and the forwards at the other end capped the well rounded victory.
Senior co-captain Kalley Armstrong and junior Mary Parker each found the back of the net in spectacular ways – both during the third period as well – to vault the Crimson offensively. In total, the Crimson fired away just 21 shots on the Hockey East Goaltender of the Year freshman Katie Burt.
It was 6:34 into the final period that the lengthy silence between two of the nation's top-5 offenses was broken. Armstrong, getting a feed from Sydney Daniels, fired a long, hard shot on net to test Burt, but the puck found its way across the goal line through the five-hole. Under seven minutes later, Parker ushered in a shorthanded goal – her second of the year (she owns Harvard's only two short-handed tallies this season) – to extend the lead.
After Sarah Edney did well to churn the puck loose, Parker picked it up and raced into the zone. The junior eventually punched it in as Burt fell backwards and allowed the puck to cross the line. The play was reviewed after being called off, but ultimately was overturned in favor of the Crimson.
But things were exciting all night, despite the lack of early scoring. The two sides skated to an empty first period, but not without some fireworks. For her part, Maschmeyer made 15 saves in the first period alone, helping the Crimson to kill off more than six minutes of Boston College power play. Harvard did well to fend off the Eagles on their first two minutes with the skater advantage, beginning just midway through the frame, but after a hit from behind, Miye D'Oench, the Crimson's leading scorer, was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct, ending her semifinals just 15 minutes into the game. Harvard again killed the BC power play with style to keep things even at 0-0 after one.
More of the same style of play continued as the two clubs fought tooth-and-nail for possession with a blend of physicality and finesse. Harvard finally flipped the script and got its own power play in the second period, but the Eagles did well to kill off the chance over the two minute span. The Crimson continued to press Burt; after sending in six shots on goal in the first, it added six more in the second. But Boston College did as well, forcing Maschmeyer to make 11 more saves in the frame.
After Harvard added its two goals, the Eagles, which sent in a barrage of 18 shots on Maschmeyer, finally found the back of the net with a bounce their way. After Andie Anastos ripped a long shot, the puck took a big bounce off the boards, finding the edge of the cage and Emily Field's stick. Field did well to flip the puck high above Maschmeyer's pads to cut the lead in half at the 15:37 mark. But the Crimson defense buckled down, especially Maschmeyer. The junior made 10 saves in the final four minutes to keep the Crimson victorious.
Harvard and Minnesota are set for their 19th meeting on Sunday.