December 8, 2009

Stingy Harvard strikes blow

Liza Ryabkina (photo: Dave Silverman)

It was the elephant at Agganis Arena during last winter’s Frozen Four in Boston, a quartet of teams from the West battling for a championship out East.

After New Hampshire, Dartmouth, St. Lawrence and Boston College all lost quarterfinal games — and Harvard missed the tournament entirely — the semifinals and championship, even the Patty Kazmaier Award, were entirely Western-flavored.

That’s why Harvard’s win and tie against No. 2 Minnesota over the weekend piqued some interest. Not only that the Crimson took three points, but also that they didn’t allow a single goal.

Senior Christina Kessler turned aside 24 shots Friday and Liza Ryabkina scored the game’s only goal in the second period off an assist from Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.). It was Harvard’s first win against a WCHA team in three full years.

Kessler was back at it Saturday, stopping 29 shots to preserve a 0-0 tie. Currently, she and Minnesota goalie Noora Raty own two of Division 1’s top three save percentages, with Northeastern’s Florence Schelling also up there.

The Crimson (7-3-2) are now unbeaten in seven games and up to No. 6 in the national rankings. They host UConn tonight.

NEHJ Player of the Week

Jackee Snikeris, jr., Yale

Snikeris recorded her 10th career shutout in a 3-0 win over Colgate on Saturday, leaving her two shy of the program’s all-time record.

She made 43 saves in that win, one night after she stopped 38 shots in a 2-2 tie with No. 6 Cornell. Both games were on the road.

Looking Ahead

Mercyhurst at St. Lawrence, Friday and Saturday

Another tasty East-meets-West clash, with the No. 1 Lakers visiting Canton, N.Y., for a pair with the 10th-ranked Saints. Mercyhurst junior Vicki Bendus has taken over the Division 1 scoring lead (11-18-29), while teammates Jesse Scanzano and Bailey Bram are not far behind.

The Saints (7-5-5) are enjoying life at home, beating Princeton and tying Quinnipiac over the weekend after concluding a six-game road trip.

Around Hockey East

Providence earned the honor of snapping New Hampshire’s 17-game league unbeaten streak with a 4-1 win on UNH’s home ice Saturday. Senior Arianna Rigano (Malden, Mass.) had a goal and an assist, and freshman Jessica Vella scored the first two goals of her college career. … UNH senior Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) achieved a milestone in defeat, recording her 100th career point when she scored the Wildcats’ lone goal. She becomes the second Hockey East player to reach the milestone this year, following Melissa Anderson of BU. … Maine swept Vermont behind senior Jenna Ouellette, who collected a goal, four assists and a plus-4 rating on the weekend. … Freshman Kelly Horan (Methuen, Mass.) had a team-high three points for UConn over the weekend. The Huskies beat BU 4-3 on Friday, and grabbed a shootout point after Saturday’s 1-1 tie with BU when Amy Hollstein (Pembroke, Mass.) had the only successful conversion.

Around ECAC Hockey

Senior Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) scored twice to pace Yale’s 3-0 win over Colgate. The three-point road weekend closes out the first semester for the Bulldogs (3-8-2) on a high note. … Melissa Waldie scored three goals as No. 4 Clarkson (14-4-1) swept games against Quinnipiac (2-1) and Princeton (3-0). … Freshman Michelle Ng (Milton, Mass.) had a goal and an assist, and Kayla Sullivan added a pair of goals, as St. Lawrence opened a three-point weekend with a 3-1 win over Princeton. … No. 8 Cornell (8-4-2) closed out a terrific first semester with a 5-0 win over Brown. Goalie Amanda Mazzotta needed to make just eight saves for her fifth shutout of the season.

Mike Zhe can be reached at