Sweaters of white and crimson fly down the ice.
A forward takes a shot and misses to the right of the net. A second shot whips off a defender’s stick, careening far wide of Katie Burt’s net. From the point, Samantha Reber sprints toward the puck bouncing in the corner, but she loses control. She trips on her skates, flips onto her back, and lands hard on the ice.
Harvard (19-4-2, 14-3-1 Hockey East) came out tripping over themselves. But despite the looming shadow of the unbeaten Boston College Eagles (27-1-1, 18-0-0 Hockey East), a second period rally ended BC’s unbeaten streak at 28 games, as Harvard skated to a 3-2 victory.
The game was hard-fought on both sides and in no way resembled teams’ previous meeting in late November, when BC won 10-2. “They’ve obviously been playing better in the second half of the year,” coach Katie Crowley said of the 2015 Beanpot champions. “They’re a very good team.”
Crowley’s statements about Harvard’s recent success proved true as the final horn ended the third period and Harvard gear flew into the air from all sides of the ice. Cheers erupted from fans dressed in crimson and white, and the pep band blasted “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” triumphantly.
BC players and coaches alike were clearly upset as they left the ice. “The locker room was very quiet,” Andie Anastos said. “The coaches came in and said we played a good game, but we knew that we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted.”
Many players seemed to agree that, being so close to an unbeaten season, this loss was particularly disheartening. Anastos was keen to point out the true tragedy of the loss, however. “We had that lossless streak but we didn’t get anything from it,” she said, “It meant a lot to the program but we didn’t win anything.”
Anastos refers to the trophy that was presented to Harvard following the game—a trophy BC was hoping to raise for the second year in a row.
The game was notable for both sides’ relentless attacks on the forecheck. Whether the puck was behind the net of Burt or Harvard’s Emerance Maschmeyer, defensemen hoping to start a rush were swarmed by the forwards.
“We want to be a ‘go’ team,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We want to put pressure on the puck all the time in every situation, in every zone.”
Two of the five goals scored on Tuesday were generated immediately from a takeaway in the defensive zone. And heavy offensive pressure with two—and sometimes even all three— forwards forechecking was the key to success for both teams.
While the remaining goals were scored in various other ways, the wide majority of chance and shots on goal were generated from an able forechecking squad.
Junior Alex Carpenter struggled throughout the game. The program record holder for longest point streak was uncharacteristically pointless. This is the second game in a row in which Carpenter has not contributed a goal nor an assist in regulation time.
This has left the scoring up to not only her linemates but also, and more apparently, the second line of forwards.
Anastos was responsible for the first goal of the game, her fourth goal in three games. When asked about her recent ability to find the back of the net in contrast to Carpenter’s failure to do the same, she explained that it wasn’t the fault of either BC players but rather that of the opponents.
“[Carpenter] was just smothered the entire game,” she said. “Every shift she was out there, there were three or four people on her.” The first line has been matched up heavily by opposing teams, who have often abandoned their standard lines for a more radical approach to stopping BC’s first line.
As a result of this focus, the second and third forward lines have had the opportunity to play against easier foes. “We’ve got a really deep team, and now it’s important that those lines step up because everyone’s going to be matching up those first lines,” Anastos said.
The fate of BC’s postseason may, therefore, rely not on its star players but rather the ability to make use of the depth the team possesses in the forwards positions.
The attendance for the Women’s Beanpot championship was 1,412, more than 1,000 attendees higher than the average home game for the women’s hockey team. Most notably, BC’s initiative in establishing a shuttle system for the game paid off, despite the return to school following a snow day on Monday.
BC’s student section dominated the Bright-Landry Center, only being matched in loudness by the brass sounds from the Harvard Pep Band. Although the team couldn’t come through on this night, it seems BC students have finally noted the accomplishments of the women’s hockey team this year, giving the players the attention they deserve.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor