Senior forward Brittany Esposito has assist for Huskies

BOSTON, Mass. - The Northeastern women's hockey team opened the 2014 portion of its schedule with a hard-fought, 3-2 loss to No. 4/5 Harvard on Saturday at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

Freshmen Heather Mottau (Milton, Mass.) and Hayley Scamurra (Williamsville, N.Y.) scored for Northeastern (7-11-1), while junior goaltender Chloe Desjardins (Saint-Prosper, Quebec) made 32 saves. Harvard netminder Emerance Maschmeyer turned aside 30 shots as the Crimson (10-1-2) extended their unbeaten streak to eight games.

The Huskies blocked 23 shots and killed off all four Harvard power plays. Northeastern scored with the man-advantage for the first time in six games and was also able to slip two pucks by Maschmeyer, who entered the game as the national leader in GAA at 1.08.

Northeastern opened the scoring at 8:01 of the first period with a tic-tac-toe setup on the power play. Sophomore Tori Hickel (Anchorage, Alaska) started the play at the point with a feed to the right circle to sophomore Paige Savage (Johns Creek, Ga.). Savage collected the puck and dished a quick cross-ice pass to Mottau, who one-timed it home to give the Huskies their first PP goal since Nov. 15 against Wisconsin, a span of 24 chances.

The lead was short lived, however, as Harvard battled back to even the score at 1-1 just 57 seconds later. Mary Parker was credited with the goal after unleashing a shot from the left slot that beat Desjardins to the blocker side, under the crossbar, at 8:58 of the opening frame.

The Huskies nearly regained the advantage midway through the middle period when senior Brittany Esposito (Edmonton, Alberta) skated into the Harvard zone on a 2-on-1 break. Esposito deked to her backhand before coming back with a forehand wrister, but Maschmeyer kept the shot out with a sprawling denial in tight.

Harvard took its first lead of the game minutes later when Gina McDonald made the Huskies pay for some sloppy play on the man-advantage. McDonald stole the puck at the Northeastern blue line and raced in alone on Desjardins, before making a move to her left and squeezing a shot inside the left post to make it 2-1 Crimson at the 14:18 mark of the second period.

Desjardins did her best to preserve the scoreline in the third, making several huge stops, including a point-blank save off a power-play chance by Miye D'Oench.

Feeding off the play of their netminder, the Huskies found an equalizer with just over five minutes left in regulation. Taking a pass from senior Maggie Brennolt (Hawthorn Woods, Ill.), Esposito collected the puck at the top of the right circle and dropped a pass to Scamurra, who lifted a backhander over the shoulder of Maschmeyer at 14:42.

But again the Crimson had an answer. Just over three minutes after the Huskies had drawn even, Sydney Daniels streaked in on the right wing and slipped a shot by Desjardins to put the hosts back in front, 3-2, with 2:03 left in the third.

Despite several flurries in front of the Harvard cage, Northeastern was unable to draw even in the closing seconds as the Crimson handed the Huskies their second straight defeat.