Nearly two weeks ago, Boston College women’s hockey had won 12 of its last 13 contests, sat inside the top five of the USCHO poll, and was firing on all cylinders. Yet in the 18 days that have followed since the Eagles’ commanding win over Holy Cross, BC has dropped four of its last five games, including Saturday afternoon’s shocking 1-0 defeat to Merrimack (11-6-2, 7-6-1 Hockey East). This marked the first win for the Warriors over No. 9 BC (13-7, 10-5) in program history, bouncing back after falling in overtime to the Eagles on Friday night.
The first period started much differently than Friday night’s high-scoring affair, as neither team generated any great opportunities. Freshman BC goaltender Kelly Pickreign played confidently in her first career start, making 14 saves in the first 20 minutes of play. The Warriors had the best chance to start scoring near the end of the period, but Megan Keller and Lindsay Agnew combined to protect Pickreign by diving in front of the net and blocking a fierce shot from crossing the line.
BC began the second period strong, but was unable to convert power play opportunities into goals and failed to challenge Merrimack netminder Samantha Ridgewell. On the other hand, Merrimack succeeded in taking advantage of a Jillian Fey penalty with about five minutes left in the frame. The Eagles held strong until the final seconds before the penalty expired, when Paige Sorensen powered in her first goal of the season on a one-timer from the dot. BC fought back to close the period, but wasted its best opportunity when Kali Flanagan’s teasing pass across the crease did not find a BC player.
The Eagles ramped up their intensity even further in the final period. Just one minute into the final frame, Delaney Belinskas thought she picked up her second goal of the season, but the refs ruled otherwise and called it back. Immediately after Belinskas’ near goal, the Eagles went on a power play once more, but failed to get anything past Ridgewell. The remainder of the game continued to be dominated by the Eagles. Numerous Merrimack penalties provided scoring chances for BC, yet none of them turned into goals. For the first time all season, the Eagles were shut out.
In total, BC outshot Merrimack, 26-8, in the final frame. This was largely the result of three power plays and an inspired offensive effort from the Eagles. Unfortunately for BC, it could not find the finishing touch. This is especially surprising and concerning because even throughout the Eagles’ recent struggles, they have been able to maintain their scoring prowess. While BC had scored an average of three goals per contest in their last four games, Merrimack had conceded at least three goals in each of their last three matches.
After BC’s overtime escape against Merrimack on Friday stopped a three-game losing streak, it looked like the Eagles would have a chance to reestablish momentum before the final stretch of the season. Instead, BC suffered what could be its most frustrating loss of the season, watching its record over the last five games dip to just 1-4.
There’s no denying that the Eagles have the talent to be a top team in the nation, but currently their response to adversity is being tested. After all, the last time they had seven losses in a given season was the 2013-14 campaign. There is still time for BC to regroup and contend for a national title, but it looks like a far less certainty than it did a few weeks ago. The team won’t take the ice again until the turn of the New Year, so the Eagles will have a chance to shake off this rough stretch—whether they do so will likely determine the course of their season.
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff