Every time Boston College women’s ice hockey faces its nearby rival Boston University, all bets are off. Even after an impressive sweep of Connecticut over the weekend and plenty of momentum in hand, the Eagles needed all 60 minutes to fight off the visiting Terriers, coughing up an early two-goal lead before fighting off a late surge in a 4-3 win.
As of late, No. 4 BC (11-3, 8-1 Hockey East) has found itself in early-game scoring struggles, despite outshooting its opponents to no avail in the earliest stages of the game. Possibly due to BC’s noteworthy roster and esteemed offense, opponents have entered with explicit attention to its defensive strategies in order to hold the Eagles—yet it has largely proved ineffective in the latter halves of games. This Battle of Comm. Ave opener proved to be an exception, though, as BC struck twice in the first 12 minutes.
Minutes after the puck dropped in Kelley Rink Tuesday night, the Eagles created early pressure, peppering BU goaltender Corrine Schroeder with three shots in three minutes. An early penalty for cross-checking on Serena Sommerfield halted momentum, though, gifted the Terriers with their first power play of the game. But two shots were blocked by Makenna Newkirk and Cayla Barnes, and the penalty kill seeded BC momentum, with the energy on the ice escalating with the game pace.
This energy culminated in a 2-on-1 situation for BC, with Daryl Watts setting up Lindsay Agnew in the slot for the opening goal at the six-minute mark. The early-game stagnation that had been present against the Huskies all but disappeared with a follow-up goal from Ryan Little, her first of the year, giving the Eagles a two-goal lead.
Unlike the weekend prior, however, the Eagles quickly found themselves in the game. BU’s offense rebounded aggressively with a goal from a crashing Jesse Compher to ease the Terriers’ point deficit. Within three minutes, BU had knotted the score, as McKenna Parker capitalized on a loose puck in the crease, and the end of the first period saw a tie game in true rivalry form.
The second period mirrored the first, as neither team seized quality scoring opportunities. An early BU penalty on Mary Grace Kelley put BC on the advantage, but even with sustained pressure on the first power play, the Eagles couldn’t penetrate the Terrier defense. The second penalty—just nine seconds after Kelley returned to the ice—was a different story. With Natasza Tarnowski sitting for tripping, Kelly Browne put the Eagles back in the lead by the middle of the frame, one-timing a pass from Megan Keller, who extended her points streak to nine games. BC would go on three more power plays in the period alone, but five accumulated shots were turned away by Schroeder.
Coming off the second intermission, the Eagles offense appeared particularly agile and attune, as Caitrin Lonergan immediately connected with Delaney Belinskas who prepared for a clean shot on goal. Quick pressure from BU defense immediately interrupted the shot, though, sending Belinskas crashing into the Terriers net and the puck soaring up-ice into dangerous territory.
Whistled for too many players on the ice, the Terriers committed yet another penalty—awarding the Eagles their eighth chance on the power play. BC piled up chances, but every shot was turned away—three were blocked by BU defensemen and two were denied by Schroeder. The sustained offensive effort paid off though, once the Terriers’ fifth skater returned to the ice. A small drop pass from Little set Maegan Beres in the slot for her first goal of the season, and the Eagles harnessed a 4-2 lead in the middle of the frame.
BU responded in kind, taking advantage of its own power play with Abby Cook’s slap shot from the top of the slot, one that navigated its way through traffic and into the net, thus narrowing the score with five minutes left in the period. But BC’s defense stiffened in the final six minutes of the game, as Maddy McArthur made three saves and Makenna Newkirk blocked a shot to secure the win.
While the stats spoke to a dominant effort from BC—it outshot the Terriers 37-13—the scoreboard and missed chances saw the rivalry result in its usual form, a one-goal game. The four games between the two last season saw the Eagles go 3-0-1, but two of those wins were by a single goal. BC went just 1-for-8 on the power play and could never truly pull away, needing a wild five-minute defensive stand to avoid overtime.
Coupled with Schroeder’s herculean effort in goal—she piled up 33 saves—the Eagles found themselves in their first close conference game with a roster at full strength. While likely frustrating, that late-game experience is always beneficial, especially with Hockey East leader Northeastern looming next Tuesday, and a home-and-home with the Terriers up after that.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff