January 22, 2013
Duluth native Bellamy finding success
on, off ice at Harvard
By Rick Lubbers
Laura Bellamy balances a busy student-athlete
lifestyle at Harvard University, spending a large chunk of the days
honing her goaltending skills for the Crimson NCAA Division I women’s
hockey team and studying to keep her grade-point average above 3.5.
She also manages to simultaneously carry a Minnesota
and Boston accent.
“Can you tell?” she asked while visiting
family and friends in Duluth during Christmas break.
Her East Coast intonation isn’t as thick
as the Boston-drenched dialogue in a Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
movie, and her Upper Midwest tones won’t remind anyone of
“Fargo.” It’s a blend: Minnesotan spiced with
a subtle Bostonian flavor.
So, the essence of her accent depends on the listener.
“That’s what some people say, but
if I’m out East, they say, ‘You say that funny, like
you’re a Minnesotan,’ ” Bellamy said. “It’s
kind of mixed, but I don’t notice it. My parents and my brother
Bellamy, 21, had plenty of time to work on her
Minnesota inflection during a quick sabbatical from hockey and academics
“I always love coming home,” she said.
“There are quite a few Minnesotans on the team, and we all
love to come back to Minnesota for Christmas. To be with my family
is just great. Even though it’s a short week, it’s a
lot of fun.”
Part of that fun included catching her former
team, the Duluth Northern Stars, take on Proctor-Hermantown and
skating outside. It’s easy for Bellamy to wax nostalgic about
her early hockey years. And much like her mixture of accents, she’s
a Minnesota girl at heart who’s fallen in love with life and
hockey on the East Coast.
“Just growing up in this state — where
hockey is it — it’s been great,” Bellamy said.
“While I’ve been back, I’ve been skating on the
outdoor rink a lot. A lot of my teammates can’t even fathom
that. I’ve been so lucky to grow up on the outdoor rink and
around people who just love hockey. It’s definitely what caused
me to want to play in college. I can’t thank the people around
here enough for that.”
A six-year starter at goaltender (2003-09) in
high school, Bellamy yearly garnered postseason awards, including
team MVP her junior and senior seasons, several spots on All-Lake
Superior Conference teams, an All-State honorable mention nod in
2008 and All-State first-team honors in 2009.
Bellamy’s path from Denfeld to Harvard was
blazed the summer before her senior year when she was contacted
by then-assistant Harvard coach and former UMD assistant Joakim
Flygh (who happens to be married to a former Duluth East star who
played hockey for Harvard, Angie Francisco). Flygh’s pitch
was enticing, so Bellamy visited Harvard in November 2008.
“I loved it. It was really different, but
I knew that I wanted to go outside my comfort zone a little bit,
and that it could be great,” she said. “I just decided
to go there, and I can’t imagine anything else.”
Neither can the Crimson.
Bellamy began her freshman season splitting time
in goal with Christina Kessler, but Kessler tore an ACL halfway
through the year and Bellamy played the team’s final 18 games.
She then spent the bulk of her time in net as
a sophomore and junior.
This season the 5-foot-8 senior captain is back
to splitting time in goal for Harvard as the squad prepares freshman
wunderkind Emerance Maschmeyer for more duty once Bellamy departs.
“She’s a great goalie — probably
the best goalie I’ve ever seen,” Bellamy said. “To
play with her just brings the level up. It makes me a lot better.”
Right now, Bellamy’s playing at the highest
level of her college career and is a major reason why the Crimson
(16-1-1 overall, 13-0 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) are
ranked No. 2 in the PairWise Rankings and in the U.S. College Hockey
Online poll. Bellamy is 9-1, leads the country in goals-against
average (0.54) and save percentage (.968), and is tied for second
in shutouts (five). She has 149 saves and has only given up five
goals. Her 19 career shutouts are
second in program history. Kessler tops the list with 25.
Even though her performances in goal this season
seemingly warrant more playing time, Bellamy understands from her
experience as a freshman the need to prepare Maschmeyer for next
year. Maschmeyer is 7-0-1 with a 0.87 goals-against average and
.949 save percentage. She has made 131 saves and allowed seven goals.
“Last year I played every minute and I would
love to be in the net for every game, but I think right now what
we have is really working well,” Bellamy said. “We’re
very competitive in practice and it’s making us better. I
have a great relationship with Emerance and I think she has made
me a lot better with how skilled she is.
“It’s helping the team a lot to have
two goalies to be fresh every time they go out there. By the end
of last season, it was a grind. It’s working well to have
two. It’s good for her because she’s working into the
role as a starter.”
It’s that unselfish attitude and leadership
that have led to her teammates naming her an assistant captain last
season and captain this year.
“Laura is a true leader,” Harvard
coach Katey Stone said. “Her teammates have tremendous respect
for her as a person, athlete and teammate. Her commitment to our
program’s team-first mantra is second to none.”
“It’s the greatest honor to be a captain
at Harvard,” Bellamy said. “I’m very proud of
that and I take it very seriously. I’m definitely proud of
where I came from and proud to say I’m from Duluth.”
Even though much of her day is devoted to hockey,
she still manages to stay atop her studies at academically passionate
“I thought I was a hard worker before I
went there, but it’s totally been redefined,” said Bellamy,
who is a pre-med student with a history and science major. She plans
to apply to medical school within a year or two.
“It’s definitely a balancing act,”
she added. “Time management is a huge thing for us with playing
hockey as much as we do. We’re at the rink for hours on end
every day. It’s a competitive environment and it’s really
intense, but we all understand that that just makes us better. We
all want to be good students. With the team, too, we kind of help
each other out where we can and remind each other to stay on our
work. Being an athlete kind of helps that because you have to balance
Bellamy will continue balancing sports and studies
for the next few months as the second half of the season winds down.
She and her teammates have three goals in sight: winning the 35th
Women’s Beanpot tourney, wrapping up the ECAC title and advancing
to the Frozen Four.
“We definitely have our eyes set on a national
championship,” Bellamy said. “With the Frozen Four being
in Minneapolis — seven of us are from Minnesota — to
be able to come back would be a dream for all of us.”
And winning a national title for Harvard on Minnesota
ice would perfectly cap a college career for a goalie with two accents.