For all of the success the Boston College women’s hockey team (34-2-2) has experienced this season, it has been sorely lacking one distinction: a championship trophy.
After faltering in the Beanpot and Hockey East tournaments, the Eagles began their last quest Saturday afternoon to get their hands on some hardware that has eluded them this year. With home ice advantage at Kelley Rink, the NCAA quarterfinal against the Clarkson University Knights (24-11-3) felt like a game the No. 2 Eagles should have taken. Thanks to a strong all-around team effort highlighted by the exceptionally stellar play of junior Alex Carpenter, it was.
“We started playing like Boston College hockey again and I was really proud of the way they competed every shift,” head coach Katie King Crowley said. “They had to because that Clarkson team is a good team, so I really commend our kids for what they did today.”
The Eagles’ offense took a while to get going, not registering a shot until more than six minutes into the game. Once the offense began to gain a rhythm, it could not be stopped. More specifically, the Knights would not contain Carpenter. The forward was seemingly everywhere on the ice in the first period, carrying the puck into the zone and then digging pucks out of the corners. Carpenter made at least three perfect feeds to Haley Skarupa in the slot that could easily have resulted in goals had it not been for the strong effort of Clarkson goaltender Shea Tiley.
The game remained scoreless until Alex Carpenter put the Eagles on the board. After digging the puck away from the boards, Carpenter fired off an absolute rocket of a wrist shot from the right dot, beating Tiley top-shelf. Carpenter and the Eagles headed to the locker room with a comfortable one-goal lead after dominating puck possession throughout the opening frame.
The intermission didn’t give Clarkson enough time to figure out how to stop Carpenter, as the junior scored again only 23 seconds into the second. After a Clarkson turnover, Carpenter skated in on a 2-on-1 with linemate Kenzie Kent. After faking a pass to Kent, Carpenter quickly wiggled into the slot and ripped another strong wrister to the back of the net.
“Alex knows how to find the back of the net,” Crowley said. “She’s been able to do that for us a lot this year. That was a really nice goal and a little bit of a helper for us to take a deep breath on the bench.”
After Carpenter’s quick goal at the beginning of the second, Clarkson finally found its legs. The Knights took to the offensive for most of the period, thanks in part to a pair of BC penalties. While only outshooting the Eagles 10-7, they attempted 13 more shots than BC.
Despite Clarkson’s revitalized offensive efforts, BC goaltender Katie Burt kept the game scoreless. Later in the second, BC’s Kristyn Capizzano made the Knights pay for their failure to capitalize on a stretch of possession, tacking on an insurance goal and giving the Eagles a 3-0 lead. After an Emily Field shot soared wide, a fortuitous bounce off the boards landed directly on the stick of Capizzano in front of the net, who easily deposited the puck past Tiley, in what felt like a deserved reward for the strong play of Capizzano’s line.
Capizzano put it very bluntly when asked about her line’s strong play on the afternoon.
“I think I’m a player who has a lot of speed and a lot of tenacity and I think both my linemates Emily Field and Andie Anastos really push me every shift, every practice, every game to bring out the best and I think we’ve been working great,” Capizzano said.
Early in the third, Clarkson finally capitalized as senior Daniella Matteucci snuck a shot through the legs of Burt, who otherwise looked fantastic for the Eagles. With a two-goal game and almost a full period to play, the Clarkson’s sense of urgency seemed to ramp up.
The skill of BC’s top line, centered by Carpenter, once again proved to be too much for Clarkson. With just over six minutes to go, BC put the game out of reach. Carpenter once again found herself with the puck right out in front of the net, but after a long scramble in the crease, Skarupa netted her 31st goal of the season top-shelf.
The Eagles didn’t stop there, though, as Toni Ann Miano cashed in on an empty net with two minutes to go, punching BC’s ticket to the NCAA Semifinal in Minneapolis next week. With only two games standing between BC and the ultimate prize, someone is going to have to figure out how to stop Carpenter.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor