Sports, Hockey, Women's Hockey

Eagles’ Season Ends With Heartbreaking NCAA Quarterfinal Loss to Clarkson

After falling to Northeastern in the Hockey East Championship game by the slimmest of margins—it took overtime for the Huskies to escape with the title—Boston College women’s hockey was looking for redemption as it headed to Potsdam, N.Y., for the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals against No. 4 Clarkson. Despite an early goal from Daryl Watts and an impressive showing by freshman goaltender Maddy McArthur, the fifth-seeded Eagles fell to the Golden Knights in a heartbreaking manner, dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to cap a disappointing trophyless season, one that ended one game short of the Frozen Four for the second straight year.

Clarkson (39-7-2, 16-5-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) took charge right off the initial face off, but BC’s (26-12-1, 19-7-1 Hockey East) defense was ready and denied its hosts any opportunity to take an early lead. The Eagles made a mistake early when Erin Connolly was charged with checking two minutes into regulation. Despite the advantage, the Golden Knights couldn’t get through BC’s defense, keeping the period scoreless. The following minutes were back and forth, but neither team was able to best the other and secure the first goal of the game.

The Eagles looked to have a golden opportunity midway through the period when Maegan Beres broke away from the defense. Taking advantage of a miscommunication between Clarkson’s skaters, she headed toward goaltender Kassidy Sauve. She closed in on the graduate student, but her one-timer was blocked, and BC was denied a goal. Shortly after Beres’ attempt, the Eagles found themselves back in Clarkson’s territory. Serena Sommerfeld passed the puck to Watts, who took a slapshot from the blue line. The puck made its way through traffic in front of Sauve, but the goaltender wasn’t able to deflect it fast enough, and it connected with the twine as the light went off, securing an early BC lead.

With less than two minutes left in the period, Clarkson got a little too aggressive, and Taylor Turnquist was sent to the box for cross-checking. The Eagles couldn’t add to their lead in the remaining minute and headed into the break with a few seconds left on the power play. As the second period opened, BC failed to capitalize on its advantage, and the game returned to full strength. The opening minutes of the second frame followed much like the first, with both teams getting caught up in the defense, unable to find the back of the net.

As the level of intensity ramped up, Makenna Newkirk was called for cross-checking, putting the Eagles in a tough defensive position, as Clarkson began to put more pressure on McArthur. BC killed off its second penalty, though, preserving its one-score lead. Soon after the Eagles regained full strength, Sommerfield was called for interference, putting BC right back on the defense. Again, the Eagles killed off the penalty, and the game returned to full strength with BC still in the lead. As the period closed, Clarkson became more aggressive, desperate to knot the game up and avoid a shutout. Ultimately, the period was scoreless, with Watts’ shot from the blue line in the first being the lone point on the scoreboard, as the teams headed into the final break.

Tensions were high when the final period began. Clarkson was desperate to defend its back-to-back national titles and avoid a complete shutout, while BC was looking to add to Watts’ early goal and get some breathing room. Despite the Golden Knights breaking away multiple times and getting looks on McArthur, the freshman was able to deflect any shot that came her way, not letting the pressure intimidate her.

The Eagles responded with attacks of their own, but Clarkson’s defense was ready to deny them any opportunities. As the period neared an end, Clarkson finally struck gold. Josiane Pozzebon was able to sneak the puck through McArthur’s skates, and the Golden Knights tied up the game with less than five minutes left in regulation. Neither team was able to take a lead following Clarkson’s late goal, and the game headed into overtime.

In the sudden-death overtime, the first goal scored would decide the game. Halfway through the session, Clarkson almost ran away with it when Pozzebon launched a shot in the direction of McArthur. The buzzer went off, but the puck flew just wide of the net, keeping BC’s dreams of a eighth Frozen Four appearance alive. With just over five minutes left in overtime, Clarkson put too much pressure on McArthur. Dealing with heavy traffic, the freshman couldn’t handle the bouncing puck and ended up sprawled on the ice trying to cover the net. Elizabeth Giguere took advantage of McArthur’s positioning and slipped the puck past the goaltender’s feet, solidifying the Golden Knights’ win and ending the Eagles’ season.

As was the case against Northeastern in BC’s previous contest, it came down to one unlucky bounce that decided the game—the Huskies pounced on a turnover in the neutral zone to set up the game-winning goal in the Hockey East final, while Clarkson made the most of a mad scrum in front of the net. Unfortunately for the Eagles, once again, the bounce didn’t go in their favor—as was the case much of the year. BC returned plenty of talent in 2018-19 and was bolstered by three Olympians, but a highly talented senior class will depart without getting a shot at a national championship, something many expect from the Eagles, year in and year out.

Featured Image by Schuler Meyer / BC Athletics

March 17, 2019