Exactly 24 hours apart, Boston College women’s hockey played two nearly identical games. Since the Hockey East will play all of its games in weekend pods, mostly in the form of home-and-home series, the Eagles are already used to seeing the same opponent twice. But between Friday and Saturday night, not only was the opponent the same, but so was the storyline.
For the second night in a row, No. 8 BC (7-3) entered the final frame with a sizable lead over Merrimack (1-5) until a late-game surge from the Warriors threatened to sink the Eagles. Both nights, though, BC found a way to hang on, and the Eagles completed the weekend sweep on Saturday with a 3-1 win.
Another striking similarity from night to night was the Eagles’ unmatched scoring depth. On Friday, five different Eagles scored five different goals, and on Saturday, three different Eagles found the back of the net. Even more indicative of BC’s offensive depth is the fact that Saturday’s three scorers were all different than the scorers from the night prior.
First on the board was Cayla Barnes, who had registered an assist on Friday but had yet to score this season coming into the night. With less than one minute left in the first frame, Barnes picked up a pass at the blue line and muscled her way into the crease before tucking a shot just below the crossbar behind Merrimack goaltender Emma Gorski.
Merrimack had a near-perfect opportunity to repeat its power play success from Friday night around midway through the first period. Two Eagles went to the box, first for having too many players on the ice, then later when Alexie Guay earned a whistle for checking. The two were almost, but not quite, two minutes apart, giving the Warriors 20 seconds of 5-on-3 play.
Unlike Friday night when Merrimack lit the lamp three times on power plays, the Warriors struggled to convert. Even with a two-skater advantage, BC’s penalty kill unit was in top form, keeping the game scoreless until Barnes’ opening tally.
In fact, despite 11 penalties—seven against BC and four against Merrimack—both teams struggled to connect on the power play all night long.
BC began to open up the game in the second period, and for the second night in a row, notched two goals in that frame and held its opponent scoreless. Olivia Finocchiaro took a pass from Savannah Norcross in a 2-on-1 breakaway and slotted it home to double the Eagles’ lead at 2-0.
BC’s third and final goal of the night was a beauty from Jillian Fey, who entered the night tied for a team-high five goals. As she grabbed a pass from Maddie Crowley-Cahill in the neutral zone, her left arm was incapacitated as she fended off a Merrimack defender with her shoulder. With only her right hand on the stick, she flicked a wrister over Gorski’s shoulder.
Despite three BC goals, both teams’ shot production was lower than it had been the previous night. The Eagles notched 32 tries on net and held Merrimack to just 19 across three periods. Kelly Pickreign, in net for the Eagles, made quick work of the few shots that trickled her way up until the final minutes of the third period.
BC left the second intermission with a comfortable 3-0 lead, a familiar feeling after leading 3-1 at the same time the night prior. But once again, Merrimack refused to go down without a fight, sending a late offensive barrage on BC’s goal.
With just five minutes left in the game, Courtney Maud became the first to break through Pickreign, as she poked home a rebound just inside the crease. The goal was also a familiar feeling, as Merrimack had put late points on the board the night prior, but both times, BC played lockdown defense to finish out the game ahead.
Although BC played two incredibly similar games this weekend, since both ended with wins, perhaps similarity isn’t a bad thing.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor