Belinskas’ OT Goal Leads Eagles Over Maine

Coming off a third-place finish in the Beanpot following Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over Harvard, Boston College women’s hockey had the chance to win consecutive games for the first time since November. Though they started off sluggish and were sloppy at times, the Eagles edged past the Black Bears by the skin of their teeth with a 3-2 overtime victory over Maine.

This contest marked the second of three matchups between BC (16-12-3, 14-9-2 Hockey East) and Maine (12-13-7, 8-11-6), with the final matchup of the season coming Saturday, once again on Maine’s home ice. The teams tied by a score of 3-3 in their previous matchup way back on Oct. 26 in Chestnut Hill, so the Eagles will need a victory to secure the much-needed seeding bonus for the postseason.

Maine was the much stronger team in the start of the first period, keeping the play in the Eagles’ zone while peppering Eagles netminder Kelly Pickreign with shots. Even though she has been the backup goalie for much of this season, the Massachusetts native earned her second-straight start for her stellar performance against Harvard when she allowed only one goal on 37 shots.

All of this offensive zone time paid off when the Black Bears finally beat Pickreign just over five minutes into the period. Ella MacLean was left all alone at the blue line with no Eagle defender in sight, and she fired a shot into the back of the net to give Maine the early 1-0 lead. Liga Miljone and Ida Kuoppala earned the assists on MacLean’s second goal of the season.

Down one with five minutes to go in the period, the Eagles went on the power play following a checking penalty on Maine forward Ali Beltz. BC was unable to capitalize on the power play despite the man advantage, which has been an area of constant struggle for the Eagles all season. In their last 10 games, the Eagles have only registered two power-play goals. 

Despite not scoring and trailing by one, BC had the momentum following the power play and tied the game up on a goal by Maegan Beres with under two minutes to go in the period.  After receiving the puck from defenseman Hadley Hartmetz right in front of the Maine goal, Beres made a strong move and beat Black Bears goaltender Carly Jackson on a backhand to level the score at one.

After tying the game up at the end of the first frame, the Eagles started the second period with much more energy than they did in the first. They opened up by pressuring the Maine defense immediately. 

Six minutes into the second period, forward Delaney Belinskas found herself on a partial breakaway. She made a move to beat Jackson and give the Eagles their first lead of the day.  Olivia Finocchiaro and Jillian Fey were credited with the assists on the goal.

Soon after taking the lead, Eagles forward Bridget McCarthy took a checking penalty to give Maine a man advantage. And though BC has struggled to capitalize on the power play this season, it continued its strong play on the penalty kill by shutting the Black Bears down rather easily while generating some shorthanded chances of its own.

Even though the Eagles had a majority of the momentum this period, the Black Bears were able to tie the game with just under five minutes to go. A point shot from defenseman Taylor Leech caught Pickreign off guard, as she was unable to track it until it was behind her and in the net. The score remained tied at two heading into the second intermission.

No scoring took place in third period despite several scoring chances for both teams. Both goaltenders, Pickreign and Jackson, stood tall to bring their teams to overtime despite a similar back-and-forth style of play as the teams had seen all game long. 

About halfway into the extra period, Eagles’ star forward Belinskas scored the game-winning, elusive overtime goal on a strong wrist shot from the right side that skipped past Jackson. The goal was her second of the game and team-leading 19th of the season. Finocchiaro and Hartmetz were each credited with their second assists of the game to earn a duo of multi-point nights.

Even though it came down to the wire, this was a game that the Eagles seemed sure to win for most of the night. They controlled play starting at the midway point of the first period but were unable to finish off the Black Bears until overtime. The Eagles look to go on their first three-game winning streak since October in tomorrow’s rematch with Maine.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor