With just over 20 minutes to play on Friday afternoon, Boston College women’s hockey found itself with the lead against the No. 2 team in the nation, Northeastern. Jillian Fey had netted a crucial goal for the Eagles near the end of the first period, and Maddy McArthur was turning away every shot that came her way.
But with a minute and half left to play in the second period, the Huskies intercepted a BC pass and found themselves with a three-on-two chance. Katy Knoll raced into the zone to McArthur’s right before dishing a pass to Andrea Renner. The redshirt senior chose to forgo an extra pass to the trailer, fooling McArthur and coolly slotting home a backhander to knot the contest at one.
An even game in the first two frames quickly shifted to a tilted match after the second intermission. In the third period, BC (4-3) suffered three penalties, and while the Huskies did not capitalize on the power plays, Northeastern (1-0) put on full display why it ranks so high in the national polls, finding the back of the net three times and defeating the Eagles, 4-1.
“Tough third period obviously for us,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said in her postgame press conference. “Three penalties is tough on your team. Although we killed them off, it just takes a lot out of you.”
Despite the difference in rankings, No. 9 BC took it to the No. 2 Huskies early. The Eagles pressured the puck in the offensive zone, making it difficult for Northeastern to clear. BC controlled the ice for the first seven minutes, preventing the Huskies from mustering a single shot on goal.
Fey had the best opportunity to put the Eagles on the board early, taking a centering pass from behind the goal and firing a one-timer toward the top right corner of Aerin Frankel’s net. But the Patty Kazmaier Award finalist from a season ago was up to the task, snatching Fey’s wrister.
After BC incurred the only penalty of the period, momentum started to shift toward the Huskies’ bench. They closed the shot margin and forced McArthur to make a few big saves.
But it was Fey and BC who would fire the opening score with just over two minutes to play in the frame. The junior found herself once again with room to work from the high slot, and she would not be denied after receiving the pass from Hadley Hartmetz, sending a wrister just over Frankel’s outstretched glove to hand the Eagles an early lead.
“I think Jill has a scoring prowess that she doesn’t even know she has,” Crowley said of Fey. “She’s also growing as a defenseman moving forward, and she finds a way to get pucks to nets and get her body in there.”
Northeastern came out with renewed energy in the second period, sporting the mettle that carried the Huskies to a 32-4-2 record last season. The Huskies peppered McArthur with five shots in the first four minutes, including three on a power play. BC bounced back with an advantage chance of its own, but despite getting in good positions, the Eagles struggled to put the puck on net. In the period, just four of the Eagles’ 17 shots made it on target.
The Huskies’ attack was fierce, but McArthur, the junior sporting a 3-0 record with a 0.936 save percentage entering the contest, was locked in. She quickly reacted to a few tough deflections and was cutting off shooting angles. Additionally, the Ontario native did well in covering the puck and not allowing dangerous rebound opportunities. McArthur turned away the first 11 shots on net in the second frame, but it was the 12th and final try where Renner and Northeastern finally broke the shutout.
The barrage of shots continued into the third period, and Northeastern utilized its balanced, four-line attack to tally three goals in the frame and break the contest wide open. McArthur could only do so much as Knoll, Kate Holmes, and Alina Mueller all found creases of space and converted their attempts into goals. After a strong first two periods, the Eagles were outshot 16-9 in the last twenty minutes, proving that defeating a top team is never an easy task.
“Coming in against another very good team, [Northeastern] had the edge on us for all of last year,” Crowley said. “So you have to change your mentality … and I thought we saw some good growth in that area for us.”
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics