The second period has proven to be the difference maker for Boston College women’s hockey so far this season, as the Eagles have tucked away two go-ahead goals through their first two games in the second frame. The same held true on Friday night when No. 7 BC faced Holy Cross on the Crusaders’ home ice. After a slow start in the first period, the Eagles hit their stride, scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the second, en route to a comfortable 6-0 shutout.
Hannah Bilka racked up four goals for the Eagles (3-0, 3-0 Hockey East), an impressive showing from the freshman, while Kelly Browne had four assists and Olivia Finocchiaro had a goal and a trio of assists. Netminder Maddy McArthur held the Crusaders (0-2-2, 0-1-0) in check, making 15 saves in her second blanking in three games.
BC opened the game with 16 shots to the Crusaders’ seven, the majority of which went wide for the Eagles. A strong offensive push proved to be largely ineffective, as Holy Cross goaltender Jada Brenon logged six saves in the first 11 minutes of the game.
The tide began to turn late in the first with a goal from Bilka in the 15th minute, the first of her career, catching the Crusaders on their heels. She coasted around the back of the cage and surprised goaltender Brenon with a hook shot to the nearside post. Holy Cross then fought hard for an equalizer, with five shots in the last two minutes of the period, but the BC defensive front was unbreakable.
As soon as the buzzer signaling the start of the second period sounded, the Eagles were off and running, desperate to bolster their lead. With four shots on goal in the first minute of the period, it was clear BC was dominant out of the gate.
Its relentless barrage of offense paid off just one minute later, when Bilka put her second goal of the night in the back of the net. Less than a minute later, senior Delaney Belinskas—back after suffering what looked to be a serious injury against Merrimack—followed up Bilka’s goal with one of her own while the team was shorthanded. This goal seemed to be the catalyst for the rest of BC’s offense throughout the game. It appeared to cause a mental shift for the Eagles, as offensive dominance became the only thing on their minds the rest of the game. From the second minute of the period on, it was all BC, all the time.
Bilka’s third goal of the night came a mere 39 seconds later, this one also during a Crusaders power play, bringing the score to 4-0, Eagles. Through her first three goals, Bilka had scored a pair at even strength and one while shorthanded, and she only built off that.
Holy Cross made a desperate effort to salvage a positive result for themselves with a goaltender switch and an offensive push, but its shots on goal remained few and far between. Meanwhile, BC maintained its offensive prowess, recording 18 total shots in the second period. Its final goal of the period came nine minutes in, scored once again by Bilka after Antonia Matzka went to the box for hooking.
Going into the final period, the Eagles’ intention was not necessarily to expand their already established lead, but to maintain their style of play and keep their opponent off the board. BC did just that, scoring just one—by Finocchiaro—in the final 20 minutes, but dominating the balance of chances.
Just like their previous two games, the Eagles broke the contest open in the second period, allowing them to coast to victory in the final 20 minutes. While the Crusaders are just in their second year as a D-I program, it was a good sign to see BC comfortably flex its offensive muscle, especially as Bilka was coming off a weekend where she peppered 10 shots on net but couldn’t score. With the likes of Syracuse, Merrimack, Vermont, and a rematch with Holy Cross ahead, the Eagles look to be in good shape to make an undefeated run for at least some time.
Featured Image by Jess Rivlis / Heights Staff