Forty-five seconds into the latter half of Boston College women’s hockey and Providence’s home-and-home series, Eagles forward Makenna Newkirk broke a scoreless deadlock and netted her 70th career goal. Scoring in the opening minutes quickly became a theme for BC, and with early goals in each of the three periods, it proved a winning recipe for the Eagles to extend their unbeaten streak to five games with a 4-2 victory over the hosting Friars.
Newkirk’s goal, her ninth of the season for No. 9 BC (18-9, 15-7 Hockey East), was the only scoring action of the first period. Newkirk was set up by teammates Daryl Watts and Megan Keller. The duo would return just two minutes into the second period, with Watts and Keller each recording their second assists of the game, this time setting up Lindsay Agnew. The Eagles are undefeated in games in which Agnew—a transfer from Minnesota—has scored, and the early two-goal lead proved to be enough. Keller, who logged her 19th and 20th assists of the season, has been unstoppable of late. Coming into the weekend, Keller was tied for 16th in the country in assists per game and 13th in total assists on the season, and the senior defenseman only improved on that mark while extending her point streak to seven games.
After the Eagles’ quick two goal lead, though, the Friars (17-9, 11-8) bounced back late in the second period with two unanswered power play goals. Hayley Lunny scored the first goal for the Friars off assists from Whitney Dove, who played spectacularly over the weekend despite finding herself on the third forward line, and Cassidy MacPherson. Soon after, MacPherson tallied another assist, setting up Sara Hjalmarsson on the next one-man advantage. The struggles on the penalty kill continued to hamper BC—it gave up one to the Friars on Friday, too, and now has allowed one in six of its last seven games.
The Eagles were able to pull away from Providence with two third-period goals. Agnew scored her second goal of the game just two minutes into the third period. The goal, assisted by Newkirk, was shorthanded and proved to be the game-winner. Caitrin Lonergan scored just minutes later in what proved to be an unnecessary insurance, assisted by Kelly Browne and Kali Flanagan. Lonergan is third on the team in scoring, having recorded her 12th goal, and has been quietly consistent for BC throughout the year.
Coming out strong after intermissions was key for the Eagles to secure a pivotal weekend sweep in conference play. All four BC goals came within the first five minutes of the given period. The Eagles’ quick strikes allowed them to play comfortably with a lead for almost the entire game, even when the Friars found some momentum late in the second period.
Statistically, BC dominated possession of the puck. The Eagles outshot the Friars, 60-45, and also had more shots on goal, outshooting Providence, 31-24. Outside of shooting, however, the Friars kept up with and even outperformed the Eagles in most statistics. Providence won more than half the faceoffs, converted 50 percent of its power plays, and blocked more shots than the Eagles. Scoring is the most important aspect of the game, though, and the Eagles took an early lead in that department and never looked back.
The Eagles’ high-powered offense wasn’t the only portion of the team that deserves credit—goaltender Maddy McArthur finished with 22 saves, giving her a .917 save percentage for the game. Meanwhile, four Eagles recorded two blocks on the defensive end, with the team piling up 12 in addition to all of McArthur’s saves. McArthur, whose save percentage coming into the game was .910, is 14th in the nation in goals against average among goalies with more than 1,000 minutes played this season. Just a freshman, the BC goaltender has a bright career ahead of her.
BC has just seven games left in the regular season before heading into the Hockey East Tournament, but its current play has the team boasting plenty of optimism entering a pivotal stretch. The Eagles’ next game will be home next Friday against Holy Cross, a team they’ve outscored by a decisive 10-1 margin in their two meetings this season. While BC has had a bumpy road at times this year, it is looking more and more like the contender many pegged it to be at the start of the season.
The Eagles are on a five-game winning streak and just polished off a series sweep of a team just a few slots below them in the conference standings. Writing them off when they hit a winter break slide would’ve been a mistake, as they have the talent to make a run for the Hockey East crown, and that much has been evident the last few weeks.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff