Previewing 2017-18 Women’s Hockey East Tournament: UConn

bc women's hockey

For the third time in the last four years, No. 3 Boston College women’s hockey (30-3-3, 19-2-3 Hockey East) will face off against Connecticut (15-13-9, 7-11-6) in the Hockey East semifinals. In the teams’ previous two postseason matchups, the Eagles coasted to a pair of two-goal victories. Overall, BC leads the all-time series, 31-14-9, and hasn’t lost to the Huskies in 14-consecutive meetings. But, of late, UConn has come awfully close to snapping the streak, tying the Eagles in three of the rivals’ past four bouts, including twice this season.

The Huskies are fresh off the biggest upset in the conference’s annual tournament, ousting second-seeded Providence in the quarterfinals. After being shutout in Game One, UConn rallied to win back-to-back games in Schneider Arena, becoming the first seven seed in the league’s history to reach championship weekend.

Who is BC playing?

Connecticut

When is BC playing?

Saturday, March 3, 1:30 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Matthews Arena, Boston, Mass.

How to Watch:

The game will be livestreamed on hockeyeastonline.tv, and NESNPlus will air a tape-delayed broadcast of the semifinal at 10 p.m.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Daryl Watts, who was just named Hockey East Player and Rookie of the Year and is a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award—just the third freshman to ever earn that distinction—leads the nation in scoring with 81 points.  

2) With last Saturday’s 6-1 victory over Vermont, the Eagles clinched another 30-win season—their third in the past four years.

3) In BC’s last four games, goaltender Katie Burt has either shut out the opponent or allowed just one goal, recording 30-plus saves three times during that span.

UConn:

1) Annie Belanger, the Hockey East Goaltender of the Year, finished fourth in conference play with a 2.13 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.

2) Winning eight of their last 11 games, the Huskies have somehow turned a 7-11-8 start into a postseason run.

3) Natalie Snodgrass—a member of this year’s Hockey East Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team—heads UConn’s scoring attack, having posted 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 24 Hockey East games.  

Last Meeting:

The Eagles made two trips to Storrs, Conn. this season, but returned to Chestnut Hill with nothing more than a pair of ties in their back pocket. Most recently, the teams swapped goals, period-for-period in a 3-3 draw on Nov. 18, 2017, one day after BC shut out the Huskies on home ice. UConn jumped out to a one-score lead in the first frame when Theresa Knutson lit the lamp on the Huskies’ first power play of the game. Right before the end of the period, Caitrin Lonergan knotted things up, and six or so minutes following the first intermission, Watts tabbed a power-play goal of her own. The two-goal swing gave BC the lead, but its advantage was short-lived. Soon enough, UConn strung together a couple scoring plays, forcing Watts to find the back of the net once more in the third period just to send the game into overtime. Despite being outshot, 5-1, in the extra frame, the Eagles and Burt held on to preserve the tie.

BC wins if…

Its defense plays up to the unit’s recent standards. Over the course of the past four games, the Eagles have only conceded an average of 0.75 goals per game. Although Burt has had to stop her fair share of shots, few have actually threatened the senior goalie. In BC’s two ties against the Huskies this year, UConn recorded 29 or more shots on net and tallied a combined three power-play goals. Whereas, in the Eagles’ lone victory of the season series, BC held the Huskies to just 22 shots and shut down their special teams attack. No matter what, Burt will keep the Eagles in this one, but a hefty performance up front could alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress for head coach Katie Crowley and Co.

BC loses if…

UConn scores first. All three of the Eagles’ losses this season have come in games where they’ve trailed after the opening 20 minutes of play. Even though BC’s ended up scoring the equalizer prior to the conclusion of the first period in each of its ties with UConn this year, the Huskies have drawn first blood on both occasions. Another slow start could very well spell doom for the two-time defending Hockey East Tournament champions, especially when they’re up against one of the hottest teams in the country.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

About Andy Backstrom 268 Articles
Andy is the sports editor of The Heights. He is from the suburbs of Philly, but has been an Arizona Cardinals enthusiast since the first grade. Every so often, he'll replay Super Bowl XLIII on Madden to exact revenge on his father's beloved Steelers. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyHeights.