Winners of back-to-back games by a comfortable combined margin of 11-2, Boston College women’s hockey welcomed in Maine on Thursday night, searching to maintain much-needed momentum with just three regular season games remaining. The Eagles looked impressively strong in wins over New Hampshire and No. 3 Northeastern, and, with their NCAA Tournament fate in their own hands—BC needs to win out and at the very least make it to the Hockey East Tournament final to secure a bid, barring unexpected results—they took on a struggling Black Bears side that hadn’t won in five games.
For two periods, though, it seemed as if the storylines that have plagued the Eagles throughout the season were rearing their ugly heads. BC took an immediate 1-0 lead—Lindsay Agnew found the back of the net at the 19-second mark—but let Maine back into it just a few minutes later. Things didn’t get better, as the team failed to put a shot on goal until midway through the second period, going into the final intermission after being outshot, 10-6, and not looking the part of a program that had just thoroughly beaten the Huskies a few days prior.
Whatever head coach Katie Crowley—in pursuit of her 300th career win—said to her team in the locker room before the final 20 minutes worked, though, as BC asserted itself. Midway through the period, on the power play, the Eagles strung together a trio of passes that culminated in a backhand finish from freshman Kelly Browne, beating Black Bears goaltender Carly Jackson (29 saves) to cap a 2-1 victory, their third in a row.
No. 8 BC (22-10-0, 18-7-0 Hockey East) got another strong game in net from Maddy McArthur, who followed up a 33-save outing against Northeastern by denying 26-of-27 shots from Maine (14-14-1, 7-14-4). She isn’t the only freshman that has played at a higher level as of late, as Browne has registered points in five of her last six games, scoring in three straight as well.
Browne’s goal, her ninth of the season, came with eight minutes to play. Jackson had stood tall in net for the Black Bears since allowing an immediate goal, frustrating the Eagles multiple times in the third period alone. However, after Cailey Hutchinson went to the box for tripping, BC’s pressure proved too much for Maine to handle. A minute into the one-man advantage, Caitrin Lonergan took the puck up the left boards before skating in and sending a pass to Megan Keller at the hash marks. Keller alertly turned and located Browne—who skated in untouched from the blue line—for the game-winning goal, the second of the year for the freshman.
It locked up the 300th career victory for Crowley, who became just the 12th women’s hockey coach to reach that mark. All 300 wins have come since she was promoted to head coach for the 2007-08 season, an impressive run with the Eagles. The former Brown University and Olympic player is still looking for her first national championship as a coach, but has already guided the program to six Frozen Fours, five Hockey East titles, and six Beanpot tiles.
“I’m very privileged to be in this situation and honored,” Crowley told BCEagles.com. “I’ve had a lot of fun in those 300 wins and even the losses too. I feel very lucky to be at a school with such great people and players, and this year is one of the best.”
Against Maine, Agnew needed just 19 seconds to find the back of the net and vault her team to an early lead. The transfer had the puck coming down the right side on a 2-on-1 and opted to shoot after the Black Bears defenseman got her stick down to deny the pass. It worked out well, with Agnew’s wrister from the left circle flying in and knocking Jackson’s water bottle off the top of the net.
Yet, a string of 20 consecutive penalties killed would come to an end for BC just seven minutes later. After Daryl Watts went to the box for checking, Maine settled in around the cage and peppered McArthur. Her defense initially held strong in front of her—blocks from Kali Flanagan, Agnew, and Cayla Barnes kept the Black Bears off the board—but the first actual shot on the goaltender with the one-man advantage went in. Maine’s Tereza Vanisova, after prolonged cycling, skated in and flipped a wrister around Barnes and a shielded McArthur to equalize.
Both netminders settled in after that, though, combining to keep the game scoreless for the next 45 minutes of the play. BC killed off two more penalties to maintain the 1-1 score, and the Black Bears denied the Eagles’ first power play of the third period but couldn’t do the same with the second, in large part because of Browne’s heroics.
While it wasn’t without slow moments, the win was a third straight for BC and featured impressive performances up and down the lineup. Lonergan boasts a 10-game point streak, Browne has looked the part of an unexpectedly dangerous scorer, and McArthur has bounced back from allowing four goals to Harvard in the Beanpot first round. Yes, the Eagles were outplayed for chunks of time and likely feel relieved that they were able to escape with a win—a draw is not what the group needs, especially to a team that is eighth in the conference—but the points count the same.
With two games left before the Hockey East Tournament that BC badly needs to win, it’s up to Crowley, freshly inducted into the 300-win club, to once again get her team rolling in a manner similar to the Beanpot consolation game against Northeastern.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor