After suffering a shocking loss to Harvard in the Beanpot semifinals on Tuesday, Boston College women’s hockey faced a familiar foe in New Hampshire in a break from the tournament. The Wildcats have been tricky for the No. 7 Eagles this season, as UNH entered as the only Hockey East team to deny the Eagles a win.
Perhaps with a chip on its shoulder after being relegated to the consolation game, BC came out aggressively and rolled to a 7-1 win. The Eagles (20-10, 17-7 Hockey East) snapped the Wildcats’ (13-13-4, 10-12-1) five-game winning streak, simultaneously scoring the most any team has against UNH all season.
BC goaltender Kelly Pickreign, starting in place of Maddy McArthur, was tested immediately after the faceoff, but came up with the first of her 18 saves. The Eagles’ offense took its turn shooting on goaltender Kyra Smith, but sloppy passes and missed rebounds saw BC unable to break through early in the period. Smith, who ranks third in Hockey East in save percentage, was always there to cover up holes, not giving the Eagles an inch to work with.
BC didn’t ease up on the pressure, though, and was soon rewarded for its efforts. In the seventh minute, Erin Connolly took a shot from the circle that the senior goaltender easily deflected, but Delaney Belinskas was right there to connect with the rebound, sneaking the puck behind Smith.
Following Belinskas’ eighth goal of the season, Caitrin Lonergan was called for hooking, giving the Wildcats an opportunity to even the score. Following two minutes of a heavy offensive push from UNH, BC managed to kill off the penalty. As soon as the game returned to full strength, the Eagles were given their own opportunity to increase their early lead, with Lauren Martin sent into the box for boarding in her own zone. The power play was short, as just 39 seconds in, Cayla Barnes was called for delay of game.
No team was able to best the other during the odd 4-on-4 play, and both players left their respective boxes without a change in the score. As the period wound down, the Eagles’ offense made a home for itself in front of Smith, desperate to increase its lead. All it took was for a well-placed pass from Belinskas to find teammate Megan Keller. With no one around her, the Olympic defenseman fired a shot from behind the circles that weaved its way through defenders, hitting off the post and into the back of the net, making Keller the sixth player in program history to reach 150 goals.
“I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that without my teammates, past and present,” Keller said after the game. “I don’t really score goals on my own, I don’t get assists on my own, you need teammates for that.”
The Wildcats took control in the early minutes of the second period, with it not taking long for the team to dial up shots on Pickreign. Under two minutes in, Abby Chapman took advantage of the freshman netminder recovering from a blocked shot and nudged the puck between her leg and the post to put the Wildcats on the board.
The Eagles were given a chance to respond when Nicole Dunbar was called for high sticking. This time, BC didn’t let the power play go to waste, scoring in just 29 seconds. Keller logged her second of the night with a wrister from the circles after connecting with a pass from Cayla Barnes, setting a new Hockey East record for most goals scored by a defenseman overall in a single season with 15.
Looking to extend its two-goal lead, BC quickly got comfortable in front of the Wildcats’ net at the outset of the third period. Daryl Watts struck first, weaving her way past defensemen before slipping the puck between Smith’s legs. Less than a minute later, Kelly Browne snagged a pass from Lonergan in front of the frame and whipped it past Smith.
Following the success of Watts and Browne, it was clear the Eagles couldn’t be stopped. The top line—consisting of Watts, Makenna Newkirk, and Lindsay Agnew—closed in on Smith. With the defense focused on Newkirk and Watts, Agnew jumped at the opportunity and tucked away a rebound. After six minutes of bloodletting, UNH called a much-needed timeout. After the short break, the Wildcats became more aggressive, but Pickereign was steadfast and denied them any opportunity to attempt to catch up to the Eagles.
A UNH goal on a power play was called off upon review, preventing the Wildcats from bringing it any closer, and BC would eventually add insult to injury in the final 30 seconds. On the one-man advantage, Browne centered a pass to Barnes, who logged the team’s seventh goal. It was a prolific scoring output, especially considering the Eagles managed just one goal on 53 shots in the Beanpot loss to Harvard. It was even more impressive considering the Wildcats had allowed just six goals over their last five games, all wins.
While the Crimson defeat will still linger, BC seems to have taken it in stride and refocused for conference play. No. 3 Northeastern awaits on Tuesday night, a game that has huge implications for the homestretch of the season.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff