Each with an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals, No. 6 Boston College (14-6) and No. 3 Ohio State (13-6) skated onto the ice with their eyes locked on advancing to the Frozen Four. Following their surprising blowout loss to Connecticut two weeks ago, the Eagles came into the game especially determined to win.
Prior to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament, which BC didn’t qualify for, Ohio State made it all the way through airport security on its way to the quarterfinals. As the Buckeyes sat waiting to board their plane, news broke that they wouldn’t play, and they returned home in disappointment. This time around, OSU made it to the game determined to avenge the loss of a postseason and took down BC 3-1.
Netted by Norcross
Junior forward Savannah Norcross has been an offensive weapon for the Eagles since her arrival at BC three years ago, and her performance against the Buckeyes only reaffirmed her value to the team. Both BC and OSU put up five shots on goal during the first period, but it was Norcross who fired a wrist shot just under the crossbar to put the Eagles up by one early on in the game. Norcross ranks third among Hockey East players for goals, and the savvy move marked her 12th of the season. She leads BC in goals and is tied with Kelly Browne for most points on the team.
OSU’s Overwhelming Offense
Though BC got on the board first, the Buckeyes dominated the final two periods and responded to Norcross’ goal with three unanswered tallies of their own. Their relentless offense suddenly shined in the second period as they put up 27 shots on goal in contrast to the Eagles’ four. All together, OSU outshot BC 48-13.
Two out of the 27 second-period attempts found the net within less than three minutes of each other. Tatum Skaggs led OSU’s offense, not only assisting on two goals but also firing eight shots herself. The Buckeyes preserved their command of the puck through the third period, outshooting BC 16-4.
The Power of Power Plays
With the heightened pressure of the NCAA Tournament came heightened physicality and penalties on both sides. BC and OSU picked up eight penalty minutes apiece, including matching penalties on Skaggs and Maddie Crowley-Cahill for roughing in the first period.
While nothing came out of the 4-on-4 play for either team, OSU forward Jenna Buglioni broke through on a power play in the second period to level the score. On the other end, BC failed to convert on any of its three power plays of the night, including on a power play that potentially could have allowed the Eagles to tie the score at two apiece with 13 minutes left in the game.
BC goaltender Abigail Levy has continuously shined for the Eagles, recording two shutout victories and an impressive .944 save percentage over 10 games this season. She stood out again against OSU, notably when she lost her stick following a difficult save and still managed to catch the rebound with her glove in the second period. Even as she faced the seemingly never-ending attacks by the Buckeyes’ offense, she keenly stopped 45 of the 48 shots on goal to obtain a .938 save percentage.
The rest of the Eagles’ defense absorbed the rest of the shots that didn’t make it to Levy. In addition to Levy’s saves, defenders such as Maegan Beres, Cayla Barnes, and Hadley Hartmetz collectively blocked nearly 20 shots to limit OSU’s scoring opportunities.
The Eagles’ ability to stay competitive against top opponents, particularly for such a young team, appears promising not only for their next regular season, but also their hopes of revenge in the 2021-22 NCAA Tournament.
“I think our team did a tremendous job of bringing us back here,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said in her postgame press conference. “Now our job is to stay here and continue to get better, and try again next year to compete for a national championship.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor