It’s an impressive feat to watch any time a hockey team kills off a power play, but it’s especially astounding when it’s on the back of a seven-save performance by a goaltender in the two minutes that team is a man down.
That’s exactly what Maddy McArthur did to keep Boston College women’s hockey within closing distance of Providence in the second period on Saturday. Yet despite McArthur’s valiant effort, the Eagles entered the third period down by two and fell to the Friars in Rhode Island 5-2.
To get to that point, though, it took an eventful first 30 minutes. BC jumped to an early 1-0 lead as Delaney Belinskas powered through the Providence defensive line and tucked the puck in the back of the net. Belinskas made a statement with her 15th goal of the season, putting BC in a great spot early on.
The Friars, quick to react and hot off a narrow loss to the Eagles just one day earlier, responded with a goal of their own just 30 seconds later. A wrister from the left circle knotted the game up at one apiece.
It was a game of quick reactions from both teams, and Hadley Hartmetz notched a goal on a backhanded shot from the blue line that surprised Friars goaltender Sandra Abstreiter, and the Eagles took the lead once again.
This time, it only took the Friars 20 seconds to respond, and the game was looking eerily similar to the Eagles’ 2-2 tie against Vermont exactly one week prior.
One minute into the second frame, Providence took its first lead of the game as Sara Hjalmarsson buried a rebound shot past McArthur’s left pad to bring the Friars to three.
About midway through the period, the game took a turn as both teams traded penalties and went to a 4-on-4 stretch for two minutes. Alexie Guay notched the best chance of that stretch for the Eagles, but Abstreiter denied the chance off the faceoff. This double penalty seemed to be the turning point for Providence, as the Friars began to open up their offense soon after.
Then it came time for Maddy McArthur to show off on the penalty kill. The sophomore stepped up big-time to prevent a runaway for the Friars, notching seven saves in the two-minute stretch while Providence had the advantage.
Despite McArthur’s best efforts, once the game returned to full strength, the Friars expanded their lead to two with just 24 seconds left in the second frame. The Eagles went into the break needing to regroup if they wanted to sweep the season series.
Entering the final period with the game on the line, the Eagles looked like a brand new team. They went over five minutes without a whistle, tiring out the first line. But Hannah Bilka put a shot on frame to bring the momentum back for the Eagles, even though Abstreiter got in front of it.
BC played an offense-heavy third quarter and continued to pepper Abstreiter with shots, but it seemed as though she couldn’t be broken. Even with a power play 12 minutes in, the Eagles couldn’t capitalize, and the game stayed well out of reach.
A loose puck at the right post gave Providence’s Ciara Barone a chance to expand the Friars’ lead to three, and with that, BC’s fate was sealed.
Though BC will return to Chestnut Hill with another tally in the loss column, the team looked sharp in many aspects of its play. The penalty kill unit, one of the Eagles’ greatest strengths this season, has emerged as a powerhouse part of the defense once again. Particularly with McArthur at the net, the man advantage doesn’t seem to affect the Eagles, as their stalwart defense kills off penalty after penalty.
The Eagles also jumped out to an early lead, which, particularly come tournament time, will make all the difference in swinging the momentum their way.
Even with Saturday’s loss, the Eagles won the season series against their nearby Hockey East foes 2-1, a good spot to be in in advance of the tournament.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor