With four minutes left on the clock in the third period, Maddie Crowley-Cahill of Boston College women’s hockey made contact with the head of a Merrimack player, which earned her a five-minute major penalty. After just 22 seconds of 5-on-4 play, Katie Kaufman cut into BC’s already dwindling lead. Minutes earlier, on a separate power play, Merrimack had cut BC’s lead to three, and Kaufman’s goal made the game even tighter.
But why panic when you’re No. 8 in the country and contending for the top spot in the Hockey East standings?
“We weren’t really worried,” said BC forward Willow Corson. “We know if we just stick to our game plan and stick to the systems, we would win.”
And win the Eagles did, as they finished out the final minutes of the game with their lead intact, beating Merrimack 5-3 to open the second half of the season. Five different Eagles found the back of the net in BC’s first game back on the ice since beating then-No. 2 Northeastern 2-1 on Dec. 13.
“We like to see a lot of different people get involved in the scoring, and that’s definitely something that we’re trying to focus on,” said head coach Katie Crowley in her postgame press conference. “And it is nice to get everybody involved in that and to see that production from multiple players, you know. I think we do have a deep team, and I think it showed today.”
Of the five Eagles to find the net, Deirdre Mullowney scored first for BC (6-3) in the first period, but not before Merrimack (1-4) opened the game with a goal from Dominika Laskova scored just eight minutes into the game on a power play.
Four minutes later, Mullowney evened the score at one apiece with her first goal of the season on a deflected long-range slap shot.
It was after the first intermission that BC really began to shake off the rust. The Eagles entered the second period tied at one but emerged from it with a two-point lead.
First, Corson took advantage of a power play in BC’s favor, hammering a shot on Merrimack goaltender Emma Gorski before grabbing her own rebound and coolly slotting it home.
Eleven minutes passed after Corson’s goal before the Eagles had any more cushion in their lead. Alexie Guay put the Eagles up by two with her first goal of the season late in the second period.
“That first period was behind us, and that was our time to kind of wake up from being on break, and now it’s time to put the pedal down and make some more plays and start to kind of feel like you’re back to normal again,” Crowley said. “And I think it showed that we were back to normal again a little bit there in that second period.”
BC’s lead after two periods was not a result of a lack of effort from Merrimack. Instead, it was a result of the fact that BC put together a nearly flawless second period. The Eagles put 17 shots on frame and only allowed five of Merrimack’s shots to reach goaltender Maddy McArthur. The Eagles incurred no penalties and won 22 of the 27 face-offs in the second frame alone.
If the second period was a page out of a textbook, the third period was more like a hand-drawn diagram. It did the job, but it was flawed and a little rough around the edges. Merrimack had two chances on the power play and converted on both, and the Warriors outshot the Eagles 11-8.
Even so, BC finished with its sixth win of the season—and its first of the new year—with another chance to prove its dominance against Merrimack later this weekend.
“We’re used to this quick turnaround,” Crowley said. “But I think we’re just excited to be able to play another game. … Obviously with it ending that way, you don’t want it to end that way and then go into the next game, but it’s for us to turn around and start off tomorrow’s game playing like we did in the second.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor