Prior to Friday night’s women’s hockey showdown between No. 4 Boston College and Boston University, each of the last three games played between the B-Line rivals at Kelley Rink had been decided by one goal. A streak that would have been extended, had it not been for a last-minute BC empty-net goal.
The Eagles continued their undefeated ways at home, making it 57 games without a loss at Kelley Rink. Despite a 5-3 victory, BC (7-2-2, 6-1-1 Hockey East) was tested from the opening faceoff. Head coach Katie Crowley expected nothing less from a BU (3-4-1, 2-4-0) team that always brings everything they have to Comm. Ave.
“That’s a very good hockey team over there,” Crowley said. “I don’t really care what their record is, they’re a very talented team, and they play hard for 60 minutes.”
And at first, it looked as if the Terriers were finally going to get the better of BC in enemy territory. In the 14th minute of the first period, Grace Bizal was called for a hooking penalty, granting BU with a power play. To this point of the season, the Eagles were seventh in the country on the penalty kill, only allowing four power-play goals in the first 10 games. But Sammy Davis was willing to put a dent into that statistic.
Following a pass from Nina Rodgers, Sarah Steele launched a shot from the blue line. Then Davis redirected the puck mid-air, which slowly slid through the legs of BC goaltender Katie Burt. Davis earned her second goal of the fall and Rodgers and Steele were credited with their fifth and second assists, respectively.
Midway through the second period, the scoring ramped up. Near the attacking zone’s blue line, Caitrin Lonergan intercepted a Terrier pass and sent a give-and-go pass to Makenna Newkirk. As Newkirk waited patiently at the blue line, Lonergan sped down the right half, receiving the puck on her left side. Lonergan shot, tallying her seventh goal of the season in the 12th minute.
Just 17 seconds later, BU fired back.
Assisted by Natasza Tarnowski, a charging Davis received the cross from the edge of the right end zone faceoff spot and lit the lamp for the second time, putting the Terriers back up 2-1. Before the end of the second period, the Eagles knotted it all up. Erin Connolly had just returned from her body checking penalty, giving BC the power play, as Savannah Newton had just left the ice for an interference call. Kristyn Capizzano passed the puck to Kenzie Kent, who was situated behind the BU goal. Surveying her options, Kent hovered in place, but eventually eyed an opening. The junior forward slung a pass to Connolly, who was just a few feet in front of the right post. Connolly flicked in her first goal of the fall, equalizing the game at two.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the final period of play. In the fourth minute, Alexis Crossley passed the puck to Mary Parker on the right side of the attacking zone. Parker whipped a shot, but Burt made the save. But while Burt was still recovering, Rodgers gathered the rebound and finished the goal. It was BU’s third of the game and Rodgers’ first of the year. Crossley and Parker each gained their fourth assists of the season.
Down 3-2, with about 10 minutes remaining, the Eagles needed someone to step up. Delaney Belinskas did just that. The freshman forward, who knows a thing or two about stringing goals together, having netted four against Maine on Oct. 9, worked her magic once again.
Lonergan found Caroline Ross, who passed the puck to the pursuing Belinskas. Skating toward BU goalie Erin O’Neil from the left, Belinskas chipped in her sixth goal of the season. Ross and Lonergan received their second and sixth assists of the year. Then, 11:45 into the third, Belinskas positioned herself in the right place at the right time. She retrieved a rebound from a blocked shot and sent the puck past O’Neil for her second goal of the game.
To many, Belinskas’ momentum-shifting pair of goals was astounding. But for the freshman, they were routine as ever.
“I’m just using my speed and my body,” Belinskas said. “And I was keeping it simple—just shooting where it’s open. It’s backhand, so the goalie doesn’t really know where it’s going, but it worked.”
Leading for the first time of the night, BC protected its zone with an extra sense of urgency. Out of desperation, the Terriers pulled O’Neil out of the net in the final minute. But, sooner than BU could muster a last-chance opportunity, Capizzano stole the puck and glided down the right side of the ice to tap in the fifth and final goal of the game—her third of the season.
While the game did not yield a one-goal differential, it sure was close. In those previous three years, in which BC defeated BU at home, the two met in the Hockey East Championship each time. Following tonight’s play, there is no reason to think that a fourth consecutive matchup is out of the question.
Featured Image by Josh Mentzer / Heights Staff