Boston College women’s hockey was fresh off a tough and historic loss to Northeastern just two days before its matchup with the University of Vermont, but that didn’t faze the Eagles. BC (22-4-5, 16-3-3 Hockey East) was quick to show why it’s at the top of its conference in a near-shutout of Vermont (12-11-9, 8-6-7), skating away with a 7-1 win.
People may say it ain’t over ’til it’s over, but for the Eagles, the game was over in the first 20 minutes. From the opening faceoff, the puck was continuously in Catamount territory, with the Eagles continuously bombarding shots at goaltender Madison Litchfield. Erin Connolly would take the first penalty of the game for hooking, but the Eagles were determined to take away any feeling of advantage for UVM. With 30 seconds left on the penalty kill, Delaney Belinskas took a fast shot from the circle that went right into Litchfield’s pads, but Megan Keller was right there to get the rebound. The defenseman snuck the puck under the goaltender’s legs for an early 1-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, Serena Sommerfield passed the puck to Bridget McCarthy, who skated behind the defense and tipped the puck under the legs of Litchfield. For the Eagles, a two-point lead wasn’t enough, though. Immediately after the Pembroke, Mass. native’s goal, Connolly, covered by Keller and Andie Anastos, crept up on Litchfield and shot it past her left shoulder. The strike forced UVM to call timeout and pull its senior goaltender in favor of Melissa Black. UVM started to get frantic, and with only two minutes left in the period Saana Valkama was sent into the box for cross-checking. The penalty proved deadly for the Catamounts, as Kenzie Kent controlled the puck right after the faceoff and got low to the ice, pushing the puck under Black’s legs just nine seconds into the power play.
The Eagles came into the second period aggressive and, consequently, Anastos was sent into the box 12 seconds in for tripping. The Catamounts couldn’t capitalize on the power play, though, and they continued to be shut out by BC. As soon as the Eagles returned to full strength, Kent took capitalized on the lack of defense between her and the net and shot the puck past the shoulder of Black.
But UVM was determined to avoid a shutout, and Alyssa Gorecki led an attack toward Katie Burt in response. Just as she was going to take her shot, she slipped and fell, pulling Burt with her. Victoria Andreakos saw her opportunity and tipped the puck past the line, giving UVM its only point of the game. BC responded by two consecutive goals by Keller and Anastos, giving the Eagles the most points they’ve scored in a game since their matchup against Providence in December.
With two goals and three assists throughout the game, Keller leads all BC defensemen in scoring points. But her success, she said, comes from her teammates and coaches.
“It’s definitely humbling to be able to get to that point. It’s all because of my teammates,” Keller said. “Without them and the world class coaching staff to be able to teach us each and every day I wouldn’t be able to make the plays I do. It’s definitely special and quite an honor.”
The third period was uncharacteristically quiet for the Eagles. Most of their points are normally won during the third period, but the Catamounts were keen on not allowing any more points for BC. The Eagles had a chance to get to eight points when Casey Leveille was called for slashing, but they didn’t capitalize on their opportunity and the entire period passed without a point on either side.
After coming out strong to set the pace into the last couple of games before the Hockey East tournament, head coach Katie Crowley had nothing but praise for her team.
“I’m continually impressed with the way this team steps up in situations that their put in. New people keep stepping up, and I think that’s a tribute to our whole team and our other coaches,” Crowley said. “No matter who’s out there, they’re giving 100% and whenever we call on them to play whatever position we ask them to play they’re stepping up and making things happen for us.”
Featured Image by Kyle Bowman / Heights Staff