Eagles Stay Unbeaten, But Draw With Visiting Maine

boston college women's hockey

Fresh off a blowout win over Holy Cross on Friday, Boston College women’s hockey was back in Kelley Rink for its Skating Strides Breast Cancer Awareness game on Saturday afternoon. While able to walk away still unbeaten, the Eagles faltered slightly and tied the Black Bears, 3-3.

The No. 7 Eagles (7-0-1, 6-0-1 Hockey East) largely dominated the first period, putting pressure on Maine’s (2-3-2, 0-2-1) defense immediately after the initial puck drop. BC became too aggressive, though, causing Olivia Finocchiaro to be called for tripping halfway through the period. Ida Kouppala capitalized on the Black Bears’ advantage, lighting the lamp three seconds before the game returned to even strength.

The Eagles quickly responded. With netminder Carly Jackson preoccupied with the BC offense to the right of the cage, Maegan Beres slipped the puck past her on her left, evening up the score. A collision into the boards late in the period sent Maine’s Ida Press to the ice. After a trainer was sent to help her, she slowly made her way to the locker room for further medical attention. No major penalty or game misconduct was called on the Eagles. Neither BC nor the Black Bears were able to connect in the final minutes, and both teams headed off the ice in a 1-1 deadlock.

The Eagles started the second period just like the first as, 30 seconds into the frame, Finocchiaro delivered the puck to Hannah Bilka, who whipped a shot past Jackson, putting the Eagles ahead of the Black Bears for the first time that afternoon. It was the ninth of Bilka’s career on the Heights, as the freshman leads the team in points this season. 

BC’s celebration was short, though, due to Jillian Fey’s tripping call seconds later. The Eagles weren’t fazed and easily killed off the penalty. BC was given its own opportunity almost immediately after the game returned to full strength after Celine Tedenby was sent to the box for a tripping call of her own. BC couldn’t connect, however, and the power play expired without a goal.

As the period progressed, Maine became more aggressive and took on Maddy McArthur. Despite playing in her second game after an injury, the goaltender was ready for Maine’s offense and swiped away every shot that came her way. A checking call on Taylor Leech gave the Eagles a man advantage late in the period. Yet BC couldn’t connect on their second straight power play, unable to crack Maine’s defense. 

Early in the third, Savannah Norcross collided with Nicole Pateman near Maine’s goal. In an event that mirrored Press’ earlier injury, Pateman was facedown on the ice with multiple trainers before she was stretchered off the ice. Norcross knew she was about to get called for a penalty as soon as she hit Pateman, and skated toward the box before the play was stopped. The collision was called as a major penalty and game misconduct.

The Black Bears were inches away from capitalizing when a shot rang off the post, but BC’s defense was ready to poke away the puck. Cayla Barnes was called for roughing while trying to help McArthur in front of the net, and suddenly the Eagles were down two players. It took just 15 seconds for the Black Bears to find a gap and equalize, with Kuppola scoring off of a wrister from the top of the left circle. Momentum in hand, Maine’s pressure proved too much for the Eagles’ defense to handle, and, just a minute later, Ali Beltz scored on the man advantage.

“On the penalty kill, we need to do a little bit better blocking shots.” head coach Katie Crowley said. “We just need to be better on that, and 5-on-3 is tough. You’re trying to be in the right spots and they snuck one in there. It’s tough.”

Late penalties on Teresa Vanisova and Michelle Weis gave the Eagles the same advantage as Maine earlier in the period, and it took less than 30 seconds for Bilka to rip twine and tie up the score. But an interference call on Barnes shortly after left the remainder of the game a 4-on-4 affair. After five minutes of overtime, neither team was able to come out on top. While the Eagles were able to sneak by unbeaten, they were dealt their first tie of the season by a team that was tabbed eighth in the Hockey East Preseason Coaches Poll. 

“I think it’s always great to be in those situations, especially early in the season,” Crowley said. “Hopefully, you learn from your mistakes in these games and you take what you can from them and move forward and try to get better, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. This whole year is a process and we’re just taking steps at a time.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor