Boston College women’s hockey had good reasons to come into Friday’s matinee with confidence. After all, the Eagles had beaten or tied Northeastern in every contest for the last several years. They were fresh off of a Beanpot victory, Northeastern was without top scorer Denisa Krizova, and the Eagles were riding a 63-game unbeaten streak at Kelley Rink. The Huskies, however, had had enough, upsetting host BC, 2-1.
The first period appeared to be running its course the way one might expect. BC is a notorious third-period team, scoring almost half of all its goals in the final 20 minutes. It poured on shots, but Northeastern’s sophomore netminder Brittany Bugalski was having none of it. The Eagles laid on the pressure in the latter half of the period, recording 18 shots, all deflected by the Florida native.
The Eagles struggled to find the twine on the power play, but it gradually began to show signs of promise. Makenna Newkirk and Megan Keller played in-sync at the top of the circles, with tape-to-tape passing that was so softly received there was no signature crack from the blades of their sticks. Their shots came with off-balance Husky defensemen and a sliding goaltender, they just couldn’t manage to squeak one past Bugalski.
Not even a driving Kenzie Kent could find the five-hole on a near breakaway, nor could captain Andie Anastos on the rebound. The Eagles’ first-period attempts were also marred with blocked shots and shots off target, missing the net on five shot attempts on the power play alone.
The second period marked a notable shift in the tenor of the game, seeing faster and more physical play. After about nine minutes of back and forth neutral zone play, Andrea Renner took a body checking penalty to give the Eagles their second opportunity of the night. BC managed to maintain possession of the puck with the extra skater on for almost a full minute, pounding several opportunities until the puck squirted down into its own zone off a missed pass. Crawling its way down the ice, all in attendance held their breath as the puck glanced off the side of the net to avoid giving BC an empty-net own-goal.
After winning the faceoff in the offensive zone, Keller and Newkirk once again set to work on their tic-tac-toe passing. An errant Northeastern stick poked the puck all the way back to Katie Burt in the defensive zone, who chose to cover as opposed to dishing it out. On the subsequent faceoff, Maddie Hartman dished it out to the point where Shelby Herrington buried it shorthanded to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles have given up only three shorthanded goals this year, yet all three of them have come against the Huskies.
The Eagles couldn’t find any momentum for several minutes following Herrington’s goal, and miscues along the blueline tarnished opportunities as they arose. The Eagles’ offensive momentum was even further smothered after Erin Connolly took a slashing penalty with just over three minutes remaining.
After bouncing around in the defensive zone, the puck found itself gliding in front of a streaking Keller with nothing between it and the net but Bugalski. Attempting to gain a step on a closing Husky defender, Keller kicked the puck just out of reach and was unable to convert on the shorthanded breakaway.
Unsurprisingly, the Eagles found some juice in the locker room after the middle frame. Known for their third period heroics, BC came out swinging after a lackluster second. Haley McLean was stuffed in the crease, and Newkirk took a big hit unleashing a howitzer that plunked heavily off of Bugalski’s mask. A questionable no-call, Newkirk left the ice under her own power, albeit gingerly. She would return, but sat out for several minutes.
This gave the Huskies some momentum, which found a hyper-determined Renner hacking away at a puck in the crease. Burt valiantly attempted to freeze the bouncing puck, but Renner was not to be denied. Channeling her inner lumberjack, she hacked away at the puck and Burt’s pads to cram one over the goal line.
Now down two, the Eagles were once again forced to call on the comeback kids. About six minutes into the third, Kelly Lauren took a high sticking penalty, giving the Eagles their third power play of the night. After a minute or so of solid opportunities, the Huskies cleared the puck down to Burt. She dished it to Caitrin Lonergan, who took it coast-to-coast, looking for a pass down the middle. Her pass never found its target, but rather it deflected off a Husky skate into the net to get BC on the board.
Finally finding the momentum it needed, BC began to pick up the pace and the aggressiveness. Northeastern also decided that the best course of action was a “park the bus” strategy, meaning that they just sat in the slot and hoped pucks wouldn’t find their way to the crease.
With about two minutes remaining in regulation, Burt abandoned her post, giving BC the extra attacker it desperately needed. A firestorm of shots and hacking sticks found Bugalski and the rest of the Huskies defense reeling, yet the pucked remained outside the net. With ten seconds remaining, Northeastern cleared the puck and seal the win, noting the end of a remarkable run at home for the Eagles. Bugalski finished with a monumental 46-save effort, with her only missed chance coming off her own player’s skate.
“I felt we had a lot of quality opportunities,” said head coach Katie Crowley. “We just weren’t able to convert. So as we get later in the season and towards the playoffs we really have to bear down and play better.”
Featured Image by Josh Mentzer / Heights Staff