For First Time in Seven Years, Eagles Falter in First Round of Beanpot

boston college women's hockey

After the completion of the first period, it looked like Boston College women’s hockey was well on its way to its eighth consecutive Beanpot final appearance. After all, No. 7 BC entered riding a six-game win streak and was pummeling an uninspiring Harvard team—it held a one-goal lead, a 19-6 edge in shots, and the host Crimson seemed to be reeling.

In remarkable fashion, though, the game completely transformed, and the Crimson scored four unanswered goals to hand the Eagles a shocking 4-1 defeat. Despite coming into the game as heavy underdogs, Harvard (8-11-3, 6-8-2 ECAC) used a stellar performance from goaltender Lindsay Reed and two goals from Brooke Jovanovich to pull off the upset. The win spoiled a chance for BC (19-10, 6-7 Hockey East) to claim its fourth-straight Beanpot title, sending a talented senior class to its first consolation game against No. 3 Northeastern next Tuesday.

The first frame began at a rapid pace. Both teams possessed great scoring opportunities within the first five minutes of the contest, but neither converted. As the period progressed, the Eagles began to take control. Daryl Watts and Delaney Belinskas led a 2-on-1 breakaway, but Watts’ shot was smothered by Reed. Just a few minutes later, Reed was called upon again, stopping a powerful one-timer from Caitrin Lonergan.

It was not until the final minute of the first period that BC, who’d been knocking on the door throughout, got on the scoreboard. Makenna Newkirk picked up her 10th goal of the season by tipping in a slapshot from Watts. It was a fitting end to a dominant first period from the Eagles and seemed to indicate things to come.

The second period was a completely different story for BC. Despite once again outshooting their opponents by 13 shots, the Eagles couldn’t score—but the Crimson made the most of their limited chances. After neither team could take advantage of early power plays, a storyline that would continue over the course of the game, Harvard evened the score eight minutes into the second frame.

Jovanovich slid a wrist shot through the legs of BC goaltender Maddy McArthur, who turned away 22 shots but allowed four goals for the first time since letting in five against Northeastern back on Jan. 12. Five minutes later, the Crimson pulled ahead for good, thanks to Dominique Petrie, who fired a high shot past McArthur. Harvard nearly added its third of the period, but crucial blocks from Lonergan and Cayla Barnes limited the damage.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, it did not take long for the Crimson to carry their momentum into the third period. Harvard won the opening face off and, just nine seconds into the final frame, Lexie Lang fizzled a low shot into the back of the net for a decisive two-goal lead. BC responded by creating loads of offensive chances, but failed to beat Reed in net. After accumulating 37 saves through the first two periods and the end in sight, Reed wasn’t about to crack and piled up 15 more stops in the third.

Halfway through the period, Harvard squandered a chance to seal the game. Jillian Fey was whistled for tripping, and Della Rovere got a chance on a 1-on-1 penalty shot, but McArthur stood tall in net to make the save. Rovere’s miss didn’t come back to haunt the Crimson, though, as the Eagles failed to make the most of their ECAC foe’s missed opportunity. Just three minutes later, after Petrie’s initial shot was denied, Jovanovich was there for the rebound and effortlessly tucked the puck away for another Harvard goal.

That was the final nail in the coffin, as the Eagles had sent eight shots on Reed to no avail in the previous five minutes. Megan Keller and Lindsay Agnew both had chances late to make the score more respectable, but Reed would turn them away and finished with a remarkable 52 saves—the first time a Harvard goaltender cracked the 50-save mark since 2014-15.

Eagles head coach Katie Crowley will surely be frustrated by her team’s performance. Although BC outshot Harvard, 53-26, it struggled to create many legitimate scoring opportunities after the first period. While the Crimson didn’t match up well with BC on paper, they made up for it with energy and aggressiveness. The Eagles appeared to be blindsided by Harvard’s intensity out of the first intermission and could not keep up over the final 40 minutes of action.

This loss comes at an inopportune time for BC, which is already locked in a fight to keep up with Northeastern in the conference standings and was likely hoping to ride its recent success to a motivational Beanpot title. Losing to Harvard, a mediocre ECAC team, will cost the Eagles in the pairwise rankings, which determines the at-large participants in the NCAA Tournament. Currently six points behind the Huskies in the conference table—who it’ll face next Tuesday—BC will need to try and close that gap, or it could soon be faced with having to win the conference tournament for a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday’s defeat was unexpected, and now it’ll be up to Crowley to rally her team and avoid what could be a massive underperformance of expectations.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff