The St. Lawrence University women's hockey team held the lead twice against nationally-ranked No. 2 Harvard University on Saturday afternoon at Appleton Arena. However, the Crimson would answer both times and come away with a 3-2 overtime victory, with the game-winner coming from Kalley Armstrong at 2:10 of the extra session to end what was an exciting, back-and-forth ECAC Hockey contest.
Harvard (17-2-1, 14-1-0) rallied in both the second and third periods to force the overtime, finishing with a 46-32 advantage in shots on goal. Meanwhile, St. Lawrence falls to 14-10-2 (9-4-1), though sophomore Carmen MacDonald was brilliant between the pipes, turning back 43 Crimson bids.
"What a great college hockey game," said Saints head coach Chris Wells. "Once again we were on the short end of an overtime game, but we had enough chances to have a different result."
After a scoreless first period that saw Harvard with a narrow 10-8 edge in shots, the two teams continued to battle late into the second before the home team got on the board. Rookie Abbey McRae took a pass from Kelly Sabatine and cut to the net, tucking the puck past Harvard goaltender Laura Bellamy at 15:27 for her 12th of the season and a 1-0
Harvard, which had been in its longest scoring drought of the season at 3+ periods, finally snapped that skid and tied the game only 1:49 later. Kaitlin Spurling found Mary Parker inside the left circle, and Parker lifted a shot over MacDonald's shoulder for her third of the year to send the game to the second intermission tied at 1-1.
The Crimson carried momentum over into the third period, as they began to pile up a sizable advantage in scoring chances on MacDonald. However, the Saints would capitalize on a solid shift at 8:48, as Kayla Raniwsky re-directed a shot from junior Dayle Wilkinson past Bellamy that sparked a big celebration as the home team went back on top 2-1 with 11:12 remaining in regulation. First-year student Jenna Marks also had an assist.
Needing a goal, Harvard stepped up the pressure with their top line of Lyndsey Fry, Armstrong and Jillian Dempsey. The trio delivered with the tying tally at 13:42, as Dempsey tucked the puck past MacDonald from just outside the crease. Michelle Picard and Armstrong assisted on the game-tying goal.
The rest of the third period belonged to the goaltenders, as they each made several crucial saves to force overtime. Though St. Lawrence would have several chances early in the extra period, Harvard switched the ice and forced Coach Wells to use his timeout with 3:00 minutes remaining. On the ensuing faceoff to MacDonald's left, the puck came to the slot where an initial Crimson shot rang off the post. With MacDonald struggled to find the loose puck, Fry found Armstrong who wristed it into the vacated net for her eighth of the season and the game-winning score at 2:10.
"We got a nice bounce last night against Dartmouth and Harvard created a nice flurry around our net for the winner," said Coach Wells. "It was certainly fun hockey to watch and be a part of."
MacDonald made 18 of her 43 saves in the third period, while Bellamy closed with 30 in the game. Both teams finished 0-for-2 on the power play, with the Saints having the best chances on a long 5-on-3 chance.
The road doesn't get much easier for St. Lawrence, as they play a home-and-home series with North Country rival nationally-ranked Clarkson University next weekend. The two teams meet at Cheel Arena on Friday and at Appleton on Saturday, both games starting at 3:00pm.