Lonergan Caps Off Third-Period Resurgence in First Round of Beanpot Play

BOSTON — Boston College women’s hockey made it out of a rough second period Tuesday to get one step closer to another Beanpot trophy, winning 3-2 in the first round of the tournament against crosstown rival Boston University at Matthews Arena. Though the Eagles (20-3-4, 16-2-2 Hockey East) struggled on back-to-back penalty kills, allowing two goals, the Terriers (13-10-5, 8-9-4) could not hold on to the lead and handed it back to BC in the third period. The victory also extends the Eagles’ unbeaten streak to 15 games.

It originally appeared that the game would be cut and dry, as Makenna Newkirk gave the Eagles a quick lead 77 seconds into the first period. In an effortless motion, Newkirk lifted the puck up past goalie Victoria Hanson’s right shoulder.

But after Newkirk’s goal, there was an offensive drought for both teams. Despite outshooting the Terriers 14-8, BC could not manage to put another one past Hanson. Even on a power play thanks to a hooking call on Sammy Davis that extended into the second period, the team struggled. The Eagles also made it out of their own penalty unscathed right after Davis’ expired, entering the second period strong.

This inability to score would come back to bite the Eagles when they faced back-to-back penalties. It took Nina Rodgers just 15 seconds to convert on the power play, a checking call against Erin Connolly. Rodgers took advantage of a rebounded puck and an occupied Katie Burt, still reeling from the original shot by Sarah Steele. Immediately after, Kristyn Capizzano headed to the box for slashing, opening up an opportunity for BU to take the lead. Another rebound snuck past Burt among chaos in front of the net, allowing Maddie Elia to snap it up. With the confusion in the crease, the referees put the play under review. After a few tense minutes, it stood, and the Terriers held the lead.

Prior to the game, BC had the best penalty kill among NCAA Division I women’s teams, according to USCHO.com, boasting a success rate of 92.9 percent. BU is a noted enemy of that statistic, as five of the 10 power-play goals the Eagles have given up have been to its B Line counterparts. BC also had the second-best power play among teams prior to the first round of the Beanpot, converting 26.05 percent of the time. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who the Eagles faced in the NCAA National Championship last season, have the second-best penalty kill and best power play. Against BU on Tuesday, the Eagles had a 33.3 percent success rate.

The goal was a welcome change from the lackluster period and a half, and it appeared that the Eagles were unraveling. Elia tried again for another goal soon after, circling around the back of the net and hooking the puck in, but this time, Burt blocked it easily. For many, it seemed that this game was over for BC. But the Eagles emerged from the tunnel, under a canopy of young fans’ hands, an entirely different team.

From the outset, BC dominated the third period. The team controlled the puck for up to a minute at a time, jumping at opportunities to score. With the rejuvenated offense came a feeling of electricity in the air—the Eagles kept trying, so hard that they would force the puck in somehow. And then came Newkirk again, this time to save the day. A tripping call on Deziray De Sousa aided the Eagles, now on the man advantage and digging deep for long bursts of energy. Newkirk took the puck far out and slipped it by Hanson, the numerical match to BC’s Burt as another No. 33. The BC bench launched into cheers while Newkirk was surrounded by her on-ice teammates.

With no doubt that they were back in it, the Eagles felt like a fire had been lit under them. Newkirk led the charge for the go-ahead goal, knocking another shot off the pipe. As time dwindled with the fast-paced play, Caitrin Lonergan clinched the lead for BC. For the Eagles, there was not as much cheering as the tying goal—instead, a feeling of relief washed over Matthews Arena. A tense three minutes followed, including a timeout by BU that prolonged the moment. With one minute left, the Terriers decided to pull their goalie, opting for an extra offensive player. The pressure was not off BC for some time, as BU went toe-to-toe until a defenseman knocked the puck into the BU defensive zone, with no one to push it back up. Time expired, and in anxiety-inducing fashion, the Eagles had advanced to the finals.   

For Lonergan, a Roslindale, Mass. native, claiming the winning goal in the Beanpot Tournament was the icing on the cake—getting to play at all was enough.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I came to all of them, so being able to play in it was so exciting,” Lonergan said.

But even with the win, it was clear the freshman, who notched her 10th goal of the season in the game, had more on her mind.

“Being able to go to the finals and actually hold a trophy is even more exciting,” she said.

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor

About Shannon Kelly 80 Articles
Shannon Kelly is the assistant features editor. One day she'd like to get paid to be funny instead of being funny for free for this newspaper or on Twitter @ShannonJoyKelly. (The irony of her middle name is not lost on her.)