Toni Ann Miano knew this was it. The final minute of overtime in No. 6 Boston College women’s hockey’s matchup with No. 3 Quinnipiac. The Bobcats’ Kenzie Prater got the puck and zoomed up the right side of the ice, plenty of open space between her and the net, reared back, and fired … but so did Miano, who dove in front of the shot and stopped a likely goal, securing the point for the Eagles in a 0-0 tie. It was BC’s first game since Maine snapped its 52-game Hockey East winning streak last weekend, and for head coach Katie Crowley, today’s play was much improved.
“Obviously it would have been nice to pop one in there, but overall I’m really happy with how our team played,” she said.
Crowley made some significant line changes for this game, moving Makenna Newkirk back to right wing from center; playing Andie Anastos, who’s recovering from an upper-body injury, at center instead of left wing; and putting sophomore defenseman Erin Connolly at center on the third line, though she didn’t see much action for the second half of the game.
“I think Erin brings that defensive side where you know she’s going to take care of her defensive side before going on offense,” Crowley said. She also was glad to have Newkirk back on the wing, where she’s more comfortable.
Today’s game was a defensive spectacle, though it was usually more of a race up and down the ice than a chess match. The Eagles (3-2-2, 3-1-0 Hockey East) and Bobcats (5-1-1) both came out swinging in a pretty evenly matched first period, with very few opportunities for either team to really get settled in enemy territory. Again and again, BC answered a Quinnipiac fast break and near-goal by dishing to freshman Caitrin Lonergan or senior Kristyn Capizzano and watching them do the same thing on the other end of the ice—it was all just barely not enough.
BC seemed to have some early trouble controlling the puck on defense, with several scares in front of the net—notably a fumbled puck that landed at the stick of Quinnipiac’s T.T. Cianfarano, who nearly pocketed the wraparound on BC goaltender Katie Burt’s left side, and a slight mishap just after, when Newkirk had some trouble controlling the puck and wound up bouncing it off the post, precariously close to slipping past Burt. But eventually they settled down, getting into a groove that proved crucial later on.
The Eagles also almost got on the board 17:40 into the first with a Grace Bizal rocket, but she was robbed by Quinnipiac netminder Sydney Rossman.
The second period started off much like the first, with some quick back and forth, but a tripping call on Bizal at 2:52 served BC its first major power play test of the game—and man, did they go to work. Burt made a great save on a shot from Quinnipiac winger Melissa Samoskevich, and after the faceoff Newkirk and Kent took it the length of the ice for what surely would have been an easy 2-on-1, except Kent lost track of the puck and couldn’t quite get the shot off. But no matter, the Eagles were looking good shorthanded. The Bobcats had similar trouble on another power play right after, on Megan Keller for checking, and were again unable to convert.
That game-saving dive in overtime was a bit of a redemption for Miano, who got her team into some hot water in the second with tripping and hitting from behind penalties that resulted in a four-minute power play. Kristyn Capizzano was the key to the Eagles’ penalty kill today, constantly pestering the Bobcats and providing a clutch clearance with 90 seconds left in the power play. Burt came up huge on the kill, too, as Quinnipiac hammered her stick side with shot after shot. It’s a bit of an adjustment for Burt, who was somewhat protected her first two years by a stifling BC defense. She’s loving it, though.
“It’s much better to play in a game where you know you’re gonna get 25 shots than if you get 15,” she said.
The story was similar in the third period and overtime. Keller snagged a fast break that looked promising before the puck took an unlucky bounce; Prater stole the puck from Bridget McCarthy but shot it just high enough for Burt to punch it out; a stick in the middle of the Quinnipiac zone sent pucks skittering and bodies flying, preventing the Eagles from settling in on offense. But they’re playing the same game tomorrow, and maybe instead of last-second deflections and fruitless fast breaks, somebody will find the twine.
“I think it’s gonna be a similar game, I think you have two very good teams battling it out,” Crowley said. “I know our team’s in pretty good shape, so we’ll see what we’ve got left in the tank for tomorrow.”
Featured Image by Josh Mentzer / Heights Staff