Nearly one period into Boston College women’s hockey’s game on Saturday against Connecticut, the Eagles and Huskies were still knotted at zero. Despite outshooting UConn,11-6, BC still hadn’t been able to break down a well-organized and determined Huskies defense. But sometimes all it takes to carve open a good defensive unit is one moment of individual brilliance.
On Friday, Caitrin Lonergan had provided that magic against the same UConn team, toe-dragging around a Huskies defender after skating through the neutral zone and wristing a shot from the right circle past Morgan Fisher for the opening goal in a 3-0 win over the Huskies.
And on Saturday, it was Lonergan who once again provided that moment when the Eagles needed it.
She received a threaded pass from Cayla Barnes on the left wing, took the puck over the blue line, then skated cross-ice to the right circle, using her speed to create some space from a trailing UConn defender before sending a wrist shot flying just inside the left post, giving BC a 1-0 lead. The goal gave the Eagles momentum heading into the first intermission, and they capitalized on it, scoring another early in the second period and cruising to a 4-0 win over the Huskies from there, recording a three-game regular-season sweep of UConn in the process.
When the game started, BC quickly picked up a one-man advantage, as Danika Pasqua was sent to the box just over a minute in for cross-checking. The Eagles couldn’t make it count, however, as they mustered just one shot on the power play, a Daryl Watts drive that was blocked. That trend held up throughout the first as the teams were a combined 0-for-5 on the power play in the first period, with UConn’s Fisher holding strong and stopping efforts from Lonergan and Barnes, while BC’s Maddy McArthur made a crucial save on a shot from Kayla Mee after Megan Keller was penalized for hooking.
UConn was made to pay for failing to convert its chances, as less than two minutes after Keller climbed back onto the ice, Lonergan broke the scoreless tie, and BC headed into the locker room for intermission up a goal, despite Savannah Norcross taking a penalty with just 55 seconds to go.
The Eagles, perhaps energized by the goal, came out of the break the stronger of the two sides. They killed the rest of Norcross’s penalty, allowing just a single Huskies shot, and immediately began to pepper the UConn goal. Lonergan forced two saves out of Fisher, while Grace Bizal also tested the Huskies netminder to no avail. But, it didn’t take much longer for BC to break through again.
The puck was dropped below the UConn goalline, and Makenna Newkirk hustled to dig the puck out of a scrum. She won control, and skated behind the Huskies net before finding Keller in the left circle. The senior defenseman wasted no time, slapping a one-timer past Fisher’s glove and doubling the Eagles’ lead.
UConn tried to get back in the game, but found that beating McArthur was no easy task, as the freshman made three saves, including a good stop with her right pad off a rebound, and watched an effort from Kayla Mee whistle past the goalpost. And once again, when BC got its opportunity, it didn’t miss. With six minutes left in the second period, Watts received a pass on the left wing from Barnes, and skated a few strides forward before sending a cross-ice pass directly to the stick of Keller. Just like her first scoring play of the day, she didn’t hesitate, sending a shot inside the left post over Fisher’s pads to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
From there, it was cruise control for BC—similar to its previous two games against the Huskies. McArthur made a crucial save on a 3-on-1 UConn breakaway early in the third period, and midway through the frame, the Eagles added yet another insurance goal. The puck was dumped behind the blue line, where Kelly Browne was waiting. The freshman took the time to pick her head up, and spotted Newkirk cutting into the left circle. Browne fed the captain, who finished past Fisher to cap a fantastic performance for BC.
All told, the Eagles outshot the Huskies, 34-16, and killed all five of UConn’s much-hyped power plays successfully. With the shutout, BC is now allowing just 1.23 goals per game, tops in Hockey East, and with the roster at full strength, it has really started to look like the national title contender it was projected to be before the season began.
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff