Well folks, it’s that time of year. Despite unseasonably warm weather and an unusual lack of snow, the Beanpot tournament has once again arrived.
Facing off against Boston University on Tuesday, Boston College women’s hockey (19-3-4, 15-2-2 Hockey East) is looking to continue its 14-game unbeaten streak to take home the coveted Beanpot trophy in a battle for nothing less than the pride of Boston. The opening game will determine who plays in next week’s championship game, facing off against either Harvard or Northeastern. With Beanpot victories in 2014 and 2016, the Eagles will be playing for their third championship in four years, attempting to climb the ladder to seven Beanpot victories.
The Eagles have been riding a wave of good play recently, remaining undefeated (12-0-2) through their last 14 games the longest streak in the nation. During that time, junior goaltender Katie Burt surpassed Molly Schaus for the program’s all-time wins record. Captain Andie Anastos and Makenna Newkirk have also been playing well, scoring seven goals in the last five games between the two of them.
BU (13-8-5, 8-7-4 Hockey East) is coming in on a less impressive record as of late, winning only one of its last six. The Terriers have been fairly consistent in their goal scoring, with contributions from the usual suspects—Victoria Bach, Mary Parker, and Rebecca Leslie have all notched multiple-point efforts, it just hasn’t been enough to emerge victorious against teams like Vermont, Providence, and Minnesota. The defense has also been struggling, allowing an average of 40 shots over the last eight games.
Last Time They Played: The last time these two teams faced off saw a 1-1 tie after a stellar, 45 save performance from BU goaltender Victoria Hanson. It was also a special teams slugfest, with 13 penalties served between the two teams. Each team’s respective goal came on the power play, which comes as no surprise considering each team spent about 10 minutes each with a man advantage. Perhaps the most important power play came in the overtime period, when BU’s Abby Cook served two minutes for slashing. Despite this power play and a 9-0 shooting advantage in the final five minutes, the game remained knotted at one as time expired.
Keys to the Game:
- Finishing: During its recent unbeaten streak, BC has consistently put up shot numbers in the high 30s, meaning that Eagles are getting to the net and the puck is following them. What has been inconsistent, however, is their goal totals. Against Merrimack on Jan. 13, the Eagles put up 38 shots and only mustered one goal. Comparing this to Harvard just three days prior, the Eagles put up 30 shots and scored three goals. Of course, this could simply reflect good goaltending, but if BC wants to beat a quality team like BU, it not only has to put up lots of shots, but it has to create quality scoring opportunities. In the Eagles’ three games against BU this year, they have put up 39, 37, and 46 shots in each, coming away with five, three, and one goal(s) in each respective effort. This inconsistency has made the difference for the Eagles, who have a 1-1-1 record against the Terriers this year. If BC wants to notch a second W and play for the trophy next week, it needs to finish the shots it puts on net.
- Consistent Pressure on Offense and the Forecheck: The best way to prevent goals for the Terriers is to take away their opportunities to score them in the first place. A team cannot score if they can’t even shoot, and the best way to prevent shots on Tuesday will be for the Eagles to pin BU in its own defensive zone with consistent pressure on offense and a swarming forecheck. In a two game series against Merrimack on January 12 and 13, the Eagles gave up 12 and 26 shots, respectively. In the first game, the Warriors were shut out, and in the second they eked out just one goal. Burt is an incredible goaltender, but the best way for the Eagles to keep pucks out of the net is to prevent her from having to make saves at all. BU has some goal-scoring talent in Bach, Parker, and senior forward Samantha Sutherland, meaning that an aggressive offense and defensive pressure through the neutral and offensive zones is essential to smothering the Terriers’ snipers.
- Special Teams Dominance: In the first nine games of the season, the Eagles capitalized on 15 of 43 power plays. Working toward an average of more than one goal per game with the man advantage, BC relied heavily on its powerplay. This success has unsurprisingly dwindled some, but the Eagles still have the number one power play in the Hockey East conference, scoring 22.92 percent (22-of-96) of the time. Considering the fact that BU has taken the most penalties in the conference, leading all other Hockey East teams in penalties-in-minutes by 20, it is safe to assume that BC could spend a considerable amount of time with a man advantage. If the Eagles can find the twine on one or two of those opportunities, like they did on Jan. 21 against Vermont, they can bury the Terriers. On the flip side of the coin, BC has an incredible penalty kill. BC has killed 94.9 percent (75-of-79) of its penalties, which is a testament to the Eagles’ defense and Burt’s presence between the pipes. It will be imperative that BC continues this stalwart penalty killing, once again finding a way to bottleneck the Terriers’ goal-scoring talent.
If you include the five minute overtime period in these teams’ last bout, the Eagles outshot the Terriers 46-29. If BC can find a way to get as many puck on net as they did last time while limiting BU’s scoring opportunities, the Eagles can win this game. BC has a phenomenal goaltender in the rear and hard-hitting snipers up front, meaning that if the Eagles can finish their opportunities and prevent BU from playing offense, they can take home a W and advance to the championship game next week.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff