Friday afternoon was Senior Day for Boston College women’s hockey and an opportunity for the Eagles to honor a group of players that captured three Beanpots during their time at BC and are still gunning for a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
As has been the case so often during their four years on campus, the seniors proved that they’re simply too talented for most opponents to handle. Makenna Newkirk tallied three assists, Megan Keller notched her team-leading 41st point of the season, and BC never trailed in an easy 5-2 victory over Maine in the Eagles’ final home game of the regular season.
The seniors had their moments of brilliance in the victory over the Black Bears (14-15-4, 7-15-4 Hockey East), but some of the underclassmen also served a reminder that, even with so much talent departing, the future remains bright for BC (23-10, 19-7) under head coach Katie Crowley. In fact, it was Kelly Browne, a freshman, who opened the floodgates.
With just under 17 minutes played, Caitrin Lonergan worked the puck over the Eagles’ offensive blue line and into the left dot, before whipping a backhand pass to Browne in the low slot. Browne, who’s now scored in four consecutive games and begun to develop excellent chemistry, particularly with Lonergan, converted the chance with a one-timer past Maine goaltender Carly Jackson to give BC a deserved 1-0 lead after one period.
The Eagles would double their lead just seconds after the interval, as Newkirk gained possession in the left circle before sliding a pass out to Keller, who was positioned at the blue line. The senior waited a second before unleashing a shot that seemed to confuse Jackson, beating her high to the glove side.
The goals kept coming for BC, which found the back of the net once again two minutes later. Maine’s Teresa Vanisova tried to skate the puck out of her defensive zone, but Maegan Beres managed to deflect the puck back toward the slot, where Delaney Belinskas fought for it and gained possession. The junior quickly turned toward the cage before sliding a low wrister just inside the left post for a 3-0 lead.
The Black Bears desperately tried to respond, finding their first stretch of sustained pressure in the Eagles’ zone, as Kelly Pickreign, who got the start in place of Maddy McArthur, was forced to make four saves in the three minutes following Belinskas’ tally. The freshman stopped shots from Cailey Hutchison and Celine Tedenby, but Maine finally broke through with six minutes gone in the third period. Vanisova took the puck through the slot before turning and shooting a long wrister. Pickreign’s view was blocked by traffic in front of the cage, and before she could locate the puck, it snuck through and crossed the line to get the Black Bears on the board.
The goal could have been the start of a comeback, but the Eagles were simply too much to handle in the offensive zone. Daryl Watts and Cayla Barnes both had attempts stopped by Jackson, but the Eagles were handed a great opportunity when Maine’s Lydia Murray was sent to the penalty box for tripping with less than eight minutes remaining in the second period—she didn’t waste it.
Serena Sommerfield worked the puck down low to Newkirk, and the senior pushed it into the slot before firing a cross-ice pass to Watts, who had taken a position at the left dot. The sophomore didn’t hesitate, launching an unstoppable drive just under the crossbar to restore the three-goal lead.
The Black Bears cut into the lead again, with Ida Press slotting home a one-timer after a long pass from Vanisova 90 seconds into the final frame, but that was as close as Maine would get. Newkirk got the puck o Watts in the left offensive circle, and she centered for Lindsay Agnew, who finished off a tap-in for the Eagles’ fifth goal of the game.
Maine was afforded one final opportunity to get back in the game, when Keller was sent off for hooking with nine minutes to play, but the BC penalty kill unit, which has been a weak point for the Eagles at times this season, stood strong, allowing just one shot for the Black Bears and executing the kill successfully. On three power plays Friday, the Eagles allowed a total of three shots and no goals.
Pickreign—who finished with 23 saves—turned aside three more Maine attempts in the final three minutes, and BC skated out a comfortable victory in its final regular season game at Kelley Rink. The Eagles have won 10 of their past 11 contests and are playing some of their best hockey at the right time, with just one more game before the Hockey East Tournament.
For a team that will likely have to win the conference tournament to guarantee a berth in the NCAA Tournament, momentum can be a difference-maker, and, right now, BC looks to have it on its side.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff