Sports, Women's Hockey, Hockey

Bilka Scores Twice as BC Beats UVM, Wins Sixth Straight

Boston College women’s hockey last went 6-0 to start a season in its 2015-16 campaign, which resulted in a National Championship appearance. The Eagles also haven’t lost to Vermont since 2009. On Sunday afternoon, No. 7 BC matched that prolific start and continued its historical stretch of success against the Catamounts with a 3-2 win.

The first period started quietly, with neither team able to pull ahead early. Following a hooking call on the Eagles’ (6-0-0, 5-0-0 Hockey East) Alexie Guay five minutes in, the Catamounts (2-0-3, 0-1-1) were given the first power play of the afternoon. The Eagles entered having gone 27 power plays without allowing a goal this season, and they continued their successful trend by easily killing off the penalty. BC had a chance of its own shortly after when UVM’s Hailey Burns sat for body checking, but the Eagles couldn’t capitalize after the two-minute advantage.

Just a few minutes after the game returned to full strength, the Eagles were given a second chance once Maude Poulin-Labelle was sent to the box for slashing. Seconds into the power play, Caroline DiFiore was called for hooking, resulting in 4-on-4 play. Cayla Barnes was given BC’s best chance of the period when she picked up a pass right in front of Blanka Skodova, but the goaltender reached across the cage to catch her shot and rob the Olympian of BC’s first goal of the afternoon. Erin Connolly was called for tripping with 54 seconds left, and after a competitive first period, the teams were deadlocked in a scoreless tie.

The Eagles killed off Connolly’s penalty to open the second. BC’s offense settled into UVM’s zone, launching shot after shot in Skodova’s direction. Despite putting heavy pressure on the Catamounts, Skodova and her team was ready for the challenge and denied every chance. UVM struggled mightily to make it out of its own defensive zone.

After finally making it down to BC territory, the Catamounts were given an advantage when Lindsay Agnew was whistled for cross-checking. Even though they were a man down, the Eagles still controlled the puck and closed in around Skodova. UVM wasn’t able to settle into the power play, and BC successfully killed off its fourth penalty of the afternoon. 

Although the Eagles controlled the puck for the majority of the period, the Catamounts scored the first goal of the game at the 12-minute mark when Alyssa Holmes took advantage of the traffic around Kelly Pickreign—who made her second straight start in lieu of an injured Maddy McArthur and made a career-high 33 saves—and snuck the puck past her. 

Right off the face off, Hannah Bilka wasted no time and responded to Holmes’ goal, giving Skodova no chance to block her shot. BC’s pressure on UVM paid off, and the freshman tied the game up a little over two minutes after Holmes’ goal. 

Coming off their first goal, the Eagles were given another opportunity when Burns sat for checking. BC couldn’t connect, however, and the penalty expired, scoreless. The Eagles never let their offense rest, though. With 13 seconds left in the period, BC was right where it had been the entire period—right in front of Skodova. Norcross picked up a pass right next to the net and snuck in a shot from the right of the cage, putting the Eagles ahead of UVM to finish the second period.  

BC may have controlled the puck in the second period, but the Catamounts dominated possession at the start of the final frame. The Eagles were given an opportunity to create some distance between them and UVM when Theresa Schafzahl was called for checking—and Bilka was up to the challenge. After being denied a wraparound attempt early in the power play, she picked up a pass from Kelly Browne and whipped it past Skodova, handing the Eagles a two-goal lead.

Trading penalties, Connolly was called for interference following Bilka’s goal. BC killed off its fifth attempt, but it gave UVM a sixth try at a power-play goal when Agnew was called for checking. For the Catamounts, the sixth time was the charm, after Schafzahl took a shot from the right of the cage and was finally able to cash in. 

With five minutes left in the frame, Connolly was penalized for checking—her third trip to the box. The Eagles killed off their seventh penalty unscathed, as UVM added more pressure to try to tie up the game. In the final minute of regulation, Skodova left the ice in exchange for an extra player, but BC was able to clear out the Catamount attempts and clinch its sixth straight win.

While the win was closer than one might’ve expected, the Eagles still managed to get it done on the road. BC has played five of its first six games away from home but still boasts a perfect record—something the likes of rivals Boston University and Providence can’t say. Plus, Pickreign has been up to par the last two games, stepping up admirably and stopping 51 of 53 shots. Should McArthur’s apparent injury—sustained in practice—be more serious than expected, head coach Katie Crowley knows she has a capable backup to help fill the void.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

October 21, 2019