WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Wildcats Pull Off Upset Of No. 2 BC
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 00:10
The Boston College women’s hockey team, which had been rolling over its early opponents so far this season, hit its first major roadblock last night when the University of New Hampshire visited Conte Forum for BC’s second Hockey East matchup of the year. This time, BC struggled against a persistent UNH offense to come away with a 3-1 loss, its first of the season.
“After seeing them play on video I knew they were a pretty good team,” said head coach Katie King Crowley. “I think they’re improved from last year, and they certainly showed us that in the first period.”
It was UNH that struck first when a failed clearing attempt from BC set up heavy traffic in front of the net. Arielle O’Neill’s shot slipped in over Corinne Boyles’ blocker amid a scramble around the goal that left multiple BC players on the ground.
From there, the middle of the first period quickly turned into a special teams battle as the teams traded penalties. It was UNH that went in the box first with a tripping penalty, but the Eagles failed to create legitimate scoring chances and even dominate possession.
Just three minutes after the end of the Eagles’ power play, UNH took its turn, this time capitalizing where BC failed within the first 20 seconds and making its lead 2-0. This time, Nicole Gifford saw her opportunity from the bottom of the right-hand circle and beat Boyles through the five hole.
With that goal, the BC penalty was nullified, but again the Eagles were denied on the power play.
“I thought we came out flat in the first period,” Crowley said. “That takes a lot out of you when you come out flat and the other team puts on in on you in the first period. Our team is still fairly young and I think we still need to learn how to rebound from that.”
It wasn’t until five seconds remained in the period that BC made its first mark. Just as it appeared that BC would enter the break down by two, Haley Skarupa sent a shot top shelf past UNH’s Vilma Vaattovaara for the Eagles’ first score of the night.
UNH stepped up defensively in ensuing period as the Eagles had significantly fewer chances in the UNH zone, especially during the first half of the period. BC’s defense, in contrast, shut down, Boyles making save after save to keep the deficit at one. While the Wildcats had a deficit of eight shots at the end of the first period, come the end of the second, shots were even at 23.
With half of the period behind them, the Eagles did start creating more chances in the offensive zone. Once again, special teams proved vital. Even with a man down, the Eagles had one of their biggest chances of the period. Though they didn’t score on that rush, they did draw a hooking penalty, which gave BC a man advantage for a minute.
The same struggle on the power play persevered, though, and the Eagles ended the period down a man once again on a penalty from Emily Field, and down by two as a goal from Cassandra Vilgrain brought the score to 3-1 with a minute and a half remaining.
“We also need to learn that power plays are important,” Crowley said. “If you can score on quite a few of your power plays, then you’re going to be okay, and I think we’re still learning that.”
It was the first time this season that the Eagles entered the third period with a deficit, and they failed to fight through the challenge. Just over three minutes in, BC was given its fourth man-advantage of the game, but once again failed to convert.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Eagles were given yet another power play opportunity—this time going up six on four as Boyles headed to the bench— that they couldn’t score on, leaving them 0- for-6 on the night and finalizing the score at 3-1 for BC’s first loss of the season.
“You’re just hoping that you can bury one,” Crowley said. “I think we missed three or four open nets on the back door there. We really need to take the puck in those areas more seriously. This is definitely a game we’re going to learn from.”