Women’s Hockey Cruises Past UNH

As the end of February approached Boston College’s campus, the question frequently used as a conversation starter by the student body was “where are you going for Spring Break?” Well, on Friday night, Spring Break finally arrived, and as the students scattered to various warmer climates, the BC women’s hockey team also decided to go on vacation—it took a cruise.

This wasn’t one of those horror cruises that have been so prominently featured in the news recently, though. BC’s cruise ran into some early headwinds, but by the time it was all over, those headwinds were all but forgotten. UNH was able to score the first goal of the game, taking a 1-0 lead 1:11 in. By the end of the first period, though, the Eagles had scored four straight in what would eventually turn into an 8-1 trouncing of the Wildcats.

Before this game, the Eagles were 16-1-1 when scoring first, but just 9-4-1 when their opponents score first. With the NCAA tournament approaching, head coach Katie King Crowley stressed the importance of playing a complete game. “That was one of the things we talked about, being able to play a full 60 minutes,” Crowley said. “It doesn’t matter who scores first, we’ve just gotta put the puck in like we can, and I thought our team did that.”

Haley Skarupa was one of a number of players who played a complete game against the Wildcats. A force on offense, UNH was completely helpless to contain Skarupa, let alone stop her, and Skarupa assisted on three of BC’s first period goals.

In the second, Skarupa beat UNH goalie Vilma Vaattovaara on a breakaway. While UNH was on a power play, Emily Pfalzer was able to force a turnover, which she quickly turned up to Skarupa, who was off to the races. With a flick of her wrists, Skarupa brought the puck from her forehand to her backhand, and quickly put it through the puck-sized hole between Vaattovaara’s pads. Skarupa’s second goal was an even strength goal. Kristyn Capizzano won a battle on the boards, and passed it out to Melissa Bizzari. Bizzari found Skarupa in space above the slot, where Skarupa was able to wrist a shot into the top left corner of the net.

Crowley was effusive in her praise for Skarupa, who missed several games earlier in the season, including the home-and-home in January. “She’s a phenomenal hockey player,” Crowley said. “To me, it seems now she’s back and not injured, and she played that way. She played a great team game today.”

In all, seven Eagles managed multi-point games, but just as important was the performance of their captain, senior goaltender Corinne Boyles. UNH’s goal came off a BC turnover in the defensive zone. Heather Kashman’s shot on Boyles was tipped by teammate Alexis Crossley, and Boyles made the initial stop but was unable to find the rebound, which was shoved into the net by Sara Carlson. Otherwise, Boyles had a stellar night in goal, making 31 saves. “I thought she did a good job keeping them away from her and making sure the rebounds go into the corner and not staying out front, so I thought she was good,” said Crowley.

BC’s special teams on Friday night were about as efficient as possible. Offensively, BC went 3-4 on the power play, with the lone failure coming later in the third period, after the game had long been decided. The Eagles scored three goals on just five shots, showing excellent puck movement. On the defensive side, UNH went 0-4 on its power play opportunities.

Perhaps the only area of concern for the Eagles was on the defensive side of the puck. The sole UNH goal of the game came off a turnover in the defensive zone, but this wasn’t an isolated incident. Especially through the first period, it seemed to be a mental block for the Eagles, as they turned it over at least five times in their own zone. “I thought our neutral zone was a little shaky in that first period,” Crowley said. “But then I think it’s just being a little bit more disciplined with pucks … Just working on that, making sure we stay composed and stay balanced.”

March 1, 2014