BOSTON — Almost three months ago, Boston University women’s hockey dealt Boston College its third loss of the season, two more than the team suffered all of last year. The weekend series split between the Green Line rivals dropped BC to a humbling 7-3-2. Head coach Katie Crowley’s crew was confronted with adversity—something last year’s team didn’t experience until the final game of the season.
Without a blink of an eye, her team responded. The Eagles rattled off a 14-game unbeaten streak, outscoring opponents 54-16.
On Tuesday, BC entered Matthews Arena for the first round of the 39th annual Beanpot Tournament on a quest to repeat as tournament champions. But first, it had to clear one hurdle: BU.
The Terriers, a group that has played BC tight all season, scored back-to-back power-play goals in the second period, carrying a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes of play. Once again, it was the crosstown rivals spawning adversity. And once again, the Eagles responded.
Fueled by a two-goal third-period performance, BC battled back to win the game 3-2. The No. 6 Eagles (20-3-4, 15-2-2 Hockey East) will now play Northeastern in next week’s final.
1) Fast Start
In the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 7, BU (13-10-5, 8-9-4) kept BC off the scoreboard until the opening minute of the third period. Even then, the late Kristyn Capizzano goal was only enough to tie the game. The Terriers would eventually hold off the Eagles in overtime for the draw. Tuesday night was a different story. Just 77 seconds after the puck was dropped, Makenna Newkirk lit the lamp. The team’s points leader flung a wrist shot past goaltender Victoria Hanson to strike first blood. Newkirk’s goal set the tone for the Eagles in a relatively dominant first period.
2) Blocked Shots
Goaltender Katie Burt was up against a run-and-gun Terriers offense that played 60 minutes of scrappy hockey. Each possession, BU darted down the ice, eyeing scoring opportunities. Coming into the game, BC knew that the Terriers were going to skate in transition. In order to protect Burt from a bombardment of shots, the Eagles’ defense blocked a total of 14, cutting off several BU attacks.
3) Third Period
After controlling most of the opening period, BC shut down in the second. Everything that it had been doing all season went right out the window, as it gave up back-to-back power-play goals. Following the period, Crowley had a message for her team.
“I said that if we win the third period, we’re gonna win this hockey game,” Crowley said. “And they won the third period.”
Right out of the gate, the Eagles looked revitalized. With a second wind, the offense sent a flurry of shots toward Hanson’s way.
It was only a matter of time until one found the back of the net. Nearing the halfway point of the third, the scoring drought ended with a power-play conversion. Newkirk—positioned in the middle of the right zone—went top shelf on Hanson. Erin Connolly and Kenzie Kent were credited with the assists for what was Newkirk’s second goal of the night and 12th of the season.
Then, with overtime looming, a certain freshman stepped up to the occasion. Caitrin Lonergan rebounded a Megan Keller shot and whipped one of her own right past Hanson. The Massachusetts native’s goal all but sealed the deal for BC.
The Eagles outshot BU 12-4 in the third, giving the Terriers a taste of their own medicine. Not to mention that the shot advantage ultimately won BC the period, which in Crowley’s words, guaranteed the victory.
Prior to Tuesday, BC was winning nearly 54 percent of its face-offs. On the other hand, the Terriers were routinely losing more than half of their bouts in the zones. But from Tuesday’s action, you would’ve thought it was the other way around. Period after period, BU held an advantage in the face-off department. In fact, in the first and third periods, the Terriers dominated. Thanks in large part to Victoria Bach and Natalie Flynn, BU won 22-of-32 faceoffs in the two periods of play.
Overall, the Terriers won 32-of-51 faceoffs. And one in particular led to the their second goal of game.
2) Penalty Kill
Before the game, BC was ranked as the top penalty-killing team in the nation. It had not allowed a power-play goal in 24-consecutive shorthanded situations and had only conceded eight all year. But in the second period, the Eagles fell short of their standard—Nina Rodgers and Maddie Elia scored on back-to-back power plays. The special team efforts marked BU’s 23rd and 24th power-play goals of the season. Surprisingly, BC’s greatest strength became its greatest weakness in a pivotal tournament matchup. It’s not farfetched to assume that Crowley will be addressing this anomaly in the coming week.
3) Mental Errors
Right from the get-go, the game was chippy, but the referees let it play out. There wasn’t a penalty called until less than two minutes remained in the first period. That all changed in the next frame. BC was called for three penalties—two of which were the catalysts for BU’s only goals.
Both penalties occurred within the same minute. And both were mental errors.
Connolly, who was aggressive all night, let her emotions get a hold of her as play inched closer to the halfway point of the second period. Following a whistle, she body checked a Terrier into the glass, handing over an easy power play.
Shortly after, BU cashed in for its first goal of the night.
Moments later, Capizzano was caught slashing, sitting her in the box for another BU power play.
Elia made the Eagles pay, netting another Terrier goal and taking the lead.
Without a few silly penalties, we could have had a completely different storyline.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor