Midway through the second period in a tie game, Boston College women’s hockey forward Caitrin Lonergan poked the puck away from a Vermont player at the blue line. As the puck slid free, it was clear that Lonergan had only one person to beat—Catamounts goaltender Melissa Black. As Lonergan sped to gather the puck near the red line, her eyes were focused on the senior netminder, who could only wait for her to arrive. Lonergan charged into the slot, gracefully slid the puck to her backhand, and lifted it into the top shelf of the net, directly over Black’s right shoulder. In one flick of the wrist, the Eagles captured a lead that they would never give up en route to a 5-2 victory.
The opening period was a battle of goalies. With 9:24 left, Serena Sommerfield was called for cross checking. No. 10 BC (16-9, 13-7 Hockey East) was able to kill the penalty but found itself short a player once again 20 seconds later after Delaney Belinskas was sent to the penalty box for hooking. These back-to-back penalties would force Maddy McArthur to face an onslaught of pucks from Vermont (7-14-4, 5-11-2), but she rose to the occasion and kept the game scoreless.
For the remainder of the period, McArthur’s counterpart put on a display of her own. On BC’s first scoring opportunity after its penalty kills, Jillian Fey sent a slapshot from the blue line, and right before it was able to slide into the goal, Black made a heroic kick save. Later, after impressive puck movement by the Eagles, Cayla Barnes had a virtually wide-open net to slap a one-timer into. Despite her momentum carrying her away from her glove side, Black was still able to snatch Barnes’ effort. After 19 combined saves between the two goalies, the teams went into the first intermission scoreless.
Early in the second period, the Eagles committed their third penalty of the game when Maegan Beres was called for body checking—and Vermont would not squander this opportunity. As the power play wound down, Kristina Shanahan snuck her shot past McArthur to put the Catamounts on the board.
The Eagles responded to the 1-0 disadvantage by picking up their pace. In an attempt to probe the gaps of the opposing defense, BC skaters snapped passes back-and-forth to each other at a rate that presented the Vermont defense with an almost impossible challenge. The Eagles were rewarded for this in-game adjustment when Megan Keller and Lonergan played a game of give-and-go, setting Keller up for a wrist shot that evened the score at one.
Then, just 95 seconds later, Lonergan put the Eagles up, 2-1, with her breakaway goal. The ninth-place Catamounts, hoping for an upset of BC after taking an early lead, began to look distraught. Despite playing with a one-man advantage for eight minutes over the course of the first two periods, they started the third period down by a goal.
The Eagles sprinted out of the gates in the final period and put the game out of reach in a blink. About three minutes into the period, Fey rolled a shot through Black’s legs to give BC a 3-1 advantage. Less than two minutes later, Lonergan scored her second goal of the game off an Erin Connolly pass that gave her an exposed net. All of a sudden, there was a three-goal difference in the score, and the game looked to be all but over.
Vermont head coach Jim Plumer quickly called timeout, trying to inspire his team to finish strong since there was still over 15 minutes to go. The Eagles would silence the Catamounts for a majority of the period by retaining the puck and preventing them from chipping away at the lead. Maude Poulin Labelle scored to make it a 4-2 game with seven minutes to go, but Connolly answered back, sending Vermont fans to the exits.
The Eagles traveled to Burlington and did what they had to do—sweep the flailing underdog and do so in convincing fashion. BC responded to a three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak, and the latest two victories further extended its historical dominance of the Catamounts. The Eagles are now 47-3-3 all-time against Vermont and have won each of the past 23 matchups with their conference foe. While the two wins aren’t exceptionally impressive on paper, they are road wins in Hockey East play, and head coach Katie Crowley’s team is now just six points away from conference-leading Northeastern.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor