Women's Hockey, Hockey, Sports

OSU’s Three Unanswered Goals Send Eagles Packing in NCAA Quarterfinals

It’s funny how frequently history repeats itself. 

Just three short years ago, Ohio State beat Boston College women’s hockey to advance to the Frozen Four. In that matchup, the Buckeyes were the underdogs. The same couldn’t be said, however, for Tuesday’s NCAA Quarterfinal round, though the result was strikingly similar.

As No. 6 BC (14-6) took the ice against No. 3 Ohio State (13-6) on Tuesday, history repeated itself. OSU bested BC 3-1—the same margin by which the Buckeyes won in 2018—knocking the Eagles out of the NCAA Tournament. BC struggled to generate offensive opportunities, and the Eagles couldn’t compete with the Buckeyes’ dominant, 48-shot offensive performance.

“When you play against a team like Ohio State, you gotta … battle for a full 60 minutes and you know, I thought we did that,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said in her postgame press conference. “I thought we got a few chances there too that could have changed the game and we weren’t able to put any home after that first [goal] so that was, that was tough.”

Heightened emotions are a staple of postseason hockey, but they didn’t seem to play much of a role in the first frame. Instead, both BC and OSU struggled to find their groove early on, recording only five shots on net apiece through 20 minutes.

With 10 minutes remaining in the opening frame, Hannah Bilka sent a pass to linemate Savannah Norcross in the slot. Norcross, who leads the team with 10 goals this season, ripped a shot to the top shelf, beating the glove of OSU goaltender Andrea Braendli by a matter of inches. 

Though BC held a one-goal advantage going into the second period, OSU quickly asserted itself and began to pull away from the Eagles. The Buckeyes put enormous offensive pressure on BC throughout the period and finally broke through to net two goals in the final four minutes of the frame. The second of the two came with 36 seconds on the clock. 

“Overall, I thought we had a great first period, but just couldn’t maintain that for the second,” Crowley said.

Penalties plagued the Eagles throughout the game, and they proved particularly costly when a high sticking penalty against BC provided OSU’s Jenna Buglioni the chance she needed to net the equalizer with 3:28 remaining in the second period.

A second goal seemed almost inevitable, as the Buckeyes peppered BC goaltender Abigail Levy with a whopping 25 shots in the middle frame. Brooke Bink netted the go-ahead goal as time wound down on the second frame.

Despite the loss, Levy was a standout, as she has been consistently all season. Her performance was dominant, as she quarterbacked the BC defensive corps and recorded a whopping 45 saves on the night, a season best for the junior goalie. 

“I thought Levy did an unbelievable job in that second period to keep us afloat,” Crowley said.

The Eagles were down by one heading into the final frame, and their situation became more dire when Buckeye forward Gabby Rosenthal tipped a shot home with seven minutes remaining in the game. 

With 20 seconds left on the clock, BC made a bid at a comeback, pulling Levy for an extra skater. The last-ditch effort was a result of OSU holding court in the BC zone, preventing Levy from safely getting to the bench until the clock was all but wound down.

“I think we battled, and we battled and just couldn’t get, you know, couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Crowley said. 

Even with an extra BC skater, the Buckeyes came away with a hard-fought victory and an opportunity to compete in the Frozen Four.

“I’m proud of my team for everything they’ve done this season, what they’ve been through,” Crowley said. “I’m so proud of [them] for getting here and for the effort they put in all year to put themselves in a situation where they could play the No. 3 team in the country and battle hard.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

March 17, 2021