With just under nine minutes left in the third period of Boston College women’s hockey’s game against Northeastern, Makenna Newkirk lined up a shot from distance. What appeared to be an easy save for Huskies goaltender Aerin Frankel soon ended in a pivotal BC goal, as the puck bounced off Frankel’s club and into the net, hoisting the No. 4 Eagles to a narrow 4-3 lead. Having already surrendered a 2-0 advantage, only to claw back ahead, it seemed as if BC had enough in the tank to escape Matthews Arena with a huge road win over the No. 5 Huskies.
Instead, like the disastrous second period where they allowed three goals, the Eagles faltered when they needed to be at their best. Northeastern pressed for an equalizer as the clock wound down, and soon, with the Huskies net empty, freshman phenom Chloe Aurard surged up the ice to bury the game-tying goal with 1:21 to go in the period, knotting the score at four apiece and sending the game into overtime.
Momentum firmly in hand for the second time that game, Northeastern created the first scoring chance in overtime, and with an impressive offensive effort, proceeded to quickly put the game away. Brooke Hobson carried the puck below the goal line before driving back toward the net. Despite desperate attempts from a BC defense, she was able to slot a pass to Mia Brown at the top of the crease, setting Brown up to tap it in through traffic for the game-winner—one that secured a 5-4 win for Northeastern (12-1-2, 11-0-2 Hockey East), which further established itself as the team to beat in Hockey East.
It was a particularly painful loss for the Eagles (12-4, 9-2), one that snapped their three-game win streak and pushed them six points below the Huskies in the conference table. BC had its chances—a breakaway from Caitrin Lonergan in the final minute nearly won it for the Eagles, who led by two after the first 20 minutes—but ultimately dropped another big game.
Contrary to the latter half of the game, the Eagles had no problem finding offensive rhythm in the first period, with impact freshmen Savannah Norcross and Willow Corson both scoring in the frame. Six minutes after the puck dropped, Norcross got her stick on it and poked it past past Frankel—who piled up a remarkable 46 saves—for the Eagles’ first score of the game. Following a scrappy foot race between Northeastern’s Tessa Ward and BC’s Daryl Watts, Northeastern was awarded its first power play of the game, but couldn’t capitalize. After peppering the goal to no avail, the Eagles managed to slide a shot into the cage with 1:42 left in the frame behind Corson’s first goal of the season, widening the lead to 2-0.
Another BC penalty, this one on Kelly Browne for hooking, set Northeastern up to score heading into the first intermission. Despite multiple shots on goal, the Huskies once again failed to take advantage of the power play, with a desperation shot by Aurard blocked by Lindsay Agnew in the final seconds of the period. Many would have predicted the two successful kills to fill the Eagles defensemen with further confidence, but instead, the wheels fell off.
First, Newkirk went to the box after interference, and Alina Mueller struck for the Huskies, wristing one home from the point. The middle of the period proved to be a battle of the goaltenders, with Frankel and Maddie McArthur continuing to freeze the score until five minutes left in the frame. Even though the Huskies were outshot by five and by all accounts seemingly destined to go into the final period behind, they found an equalizer and then some. Mueller created an opportunity from behind the cage, scoring with just under five minutes left in the period off an assist from Veronika Pettey. Feeding off this newfound momentum, Mueller picked the puck off the boards and turned toward the goal in the final moments of the frame. From there, she carried it below the red line before connecting with Kasidy Anderson for a wrist shot in the low slot, pushing the Huskies to their first lead of the game entering the third period.
Following a tripping penalty on Kasidy Anderson late in the second period, the Eagles were gifted their first power play of the game coming off the break. Right on cue, a shot from a tough angle by Newkirk knotted the game early in the final frame. The teams began trading penalties, as a hooking foul on Delaney Belinskas landed her in the box. The Eagles hardly saw the puck during the power play and a nifty backhander by Pettey caused a scare, but an impressive performance by McArthur—who would record 28 saves in the defeat—kept the score at a standstill.
That was until Newkirk finally got another one past Frankel, regaining the lead for the Eagles. It seemed as if BC was prepared to snap yet another Northeastern winning streak—the Huskies entered unbeaten in 11 games—reminiscent of the 2015-16 season in which the Eagles halted the Huskies’ run of 14 consecutive victories. Then, Aurard snuck one past McArthur to tie the game, and Browne’s last-ditch effort fell inches short due to a toe save from Frankel, sending the game to an extra frame.
While this BC team is excellent in transition, the Huskies found the perfect defensive strategy to deny its scoring opportunities, catching the Eagles skating across the ice and preventing them from creeping down broadway. Nevertheless, BC must persevere in creating its own opportunities on goal without relying too heavily on the devices of McArthur, only a freshman, as its key defensive weapon. The Eagles will have to find a way to contain the two Northeastern standout freshmen, Mueller and Aurard, if they are to return to Matthews Arena on Jan. 11 and avenge Tuesday’s loss. After all, the Eagles’ streak of six-consecutive Hockey East regular season titles is in jeopardy—and only time will tell if they have what it takes to erase the widening gap between them and the Huskies.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / For The Heights