Top Story, Women's Hockey

Watts Leads the Charge in Eagles’ Rout of Merrimack

Boston College women’s hockey closed out the first half of the season, scoring four goals in three-straight games. Granted, the Eagles had a month off—due to the NCAA’s mandatory holiday break—BC hadn’t eclipsed the four-goal mark since late November. But on Tuesday evening, head coach Katie Crowley’s team nearly doubled that total, beating Merrimack for the third game in a row, 7-3.

Despite the rout, the No. 2 Eagles’ (16-1-3, 10-0-3 Hockey East) untainted conference record wasn’t always safe. Like the last time out, Merrimack (6-13-3, 1-9-2) drew first blood—this time, just 80 seconds into the game.  

Mikyla Grant-Mentis outskated her defenders, creating a 1-on-1 opportunity with BC goaltender Katie Burt. As the senior pushed her foot toward the left pipe to cover the crease, Grant-Mentis snuck the puck into the cage, giving the Warriors an early lead.

It wasn’t long until Caitrin Lonergan fired back. The sophomore infiltrated Merrimack territory and attempted to locate Kenzie Kent, but her pass was poked away prior to reaching Kent’s stick. Less than a minute later, Lonergan went back to her captain. After receiving the feed, Kent wove her way through the Warriors’ defense and launched a shot on net. Merrimack goalie Lea-Kristine Demers couldn’t make the stop, conceding the game-tying goal. And just like that, the scoring spree began.

In a matter of 41 seconds, the Eagles took the lead. Daryl Watts pulled away from the Merrimack defense, cut inside, and whipped a shot on goal. Demers made the save, but the puck bounced back out into the Warriors’ zone. Makenna Newkirk scooped up the rebound and scored BC’s second goal of the game.

Even though Merrimack upped its intensity in the second period, it’s deficit only increased. About six minutes into the frame, the Eagles got their chance off a Newkirk faceoff. Watts tracked down the puck and found a small hole between Demers and the post, lighting the lamp. The Warriors didn’t roll over though.

Less than two minutes after Watts netted BC’s third goal of the game, Caroline Ross was called for holding, as she battled for the puck against the wall, and Serena Sommerfeld was charged for tripping. With a two-player advantage, Merrimack wasted no time to get back on the board. The Warriors inched closer to Burt and applied pressure, allowing Katelyn Rae to bury the team’s fifth power-play goal of the season.

Moments later, the Eagles were back on the penalty kill when Ross got sent back to the box for tripping right in front of Burt. Even though it was a player down, BC controlled the puck. Watts headed toward Demers for her second goal of the game and proceeded to rip a shot from the far circle, but the Warriors netminder came up with the save. Yet, once again, Newkirk chased down the rebound. Without hesitation, the junior slid the puck into the now-empty net, restoring BC’s two-goal lead. Still on the power play, Merrimack tried to get back in the game. The Warriors pushed the puck down the ice with a 3-on-1 breakaway. Burt couldn’t handle the heat.  After knocking the initial shot away, the senior cracked under pressure, as Grant-Mentis came around the back of the net and squeezed the puck along the post.

Although the Eagles were only up one goal, they weren’t fazed. After the game returned to full strength, Watts took it upon herself to distance BC from its Hockey East foe. Following a Newkirk miss, the freshman, who finished the game with a career-high five points, faked a shot of her own, cut across the ice, and fired the puck into the back of the net.

BC went on the power play for the first time all day in the third period, thanks to Felila Manu’s roughing penalty. The Eagles didn’t skip a beat, showing Merrimack how deadly their power play is. Less than 30 seconds into the advantage, Lonergan took a shot from the dot that sailed past Demers and hit the twine. The early special teams scoring play forced the Warriors to switch out their goaltender, replacing Demers with Samantha Ridgewell, who started the first two games of the teams’ season series. While it retained its lead, BC couldn’t seem to catch a break with minor calls. Maegan Beres was called for high sticking, marking the Eagles’ seventh infraction of the game. Nevertheless, BC killed the penalty with ease.

Despite having a three-goal lead as the third period wound down, BC wasn’t done. In the final seconds of its second power play of the game, Lonergan took possession of the puck and drove it home into the top corner of the net, solidifying BC’s blowout victory.

Crowley’s group wasn’t perfect by any means on the defensive end of the ice, but its offensive firepower was simply too much for the Warriors to handle. The Eagles, who rank second in the nation in scoring, had Demers’ number from start to finish, especially on special teams. Like every other team in the country, the Eagles were away from the ice for much of the month of December—but one would never know, judging by the way they played on Tuesday.  

Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff

January 2, 2018