Boston College women’s hockey took the ice Thursday evening for the first time since Ohio State ended its National Championship dreams in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament this past March. The 2020–21 season ended unceremoniously, but this season’s Eagles don’t appear to be fans of bitter endings.
BC played gritty hockey Thursday night in its season opener at Penn State. Goaltender Abigail Levy formed a nearly impenetrable wall, refusing to give Penn State more than one good look on goal. When Abby Newhook finally found the back of the net in overtime, the Eagles emerged with a hard-fought 2–1 victory.
Prior to Thursday’s matchup, No. 7 BC (1–0) had never faced No. 12 Penn State (0–2–1). The Nittany Lions finished their 2020–21 season 16–3–2 while the Eagles finished 14–6. Despite its superior record, Penn State did not qualify for the 2021 NCAA Tournament in which BC received the No. 6 seed.
BC and Penn State picked right back up where they left off last season. The teams played the type of game you expect when two of the best teams in the country go head-to-head, though neither team demonstrated offensive firepower.
Instead, the two defenses stepped up in what would have been tied for BC’s second-lowest scoring game in all of last season. A scoreless first period saw a dead-heat with 12 shots on goal for each team, sending them to the first intermission without a score on the board.
When BC received a power-play opportunity early in the second period, Gaby Roy took matters into her own hands.
With 18:04 on the clock, Roy sent the puck into the back of the net unassisted for BC’s first goal of the season. Roy also scored the Eagles’ first goal of the season last year, similarly just a few minutes into the second period of a game against New Hampshire.
Roy’s goal against Penn State would also be the only goal until late in the third period, as Levy and Penn State’s Josie Bothun showed no signs of yielding.
Penn State’s Mallory Uihlein finally slipped a puck past Levy and cracked the score column with 12:54 on the clock in the third period. The rest of the third period passed quietly, with Newhook sending a shot just wide at the end of regulation.
Willow Corson won the faceoff for BC at the start of overtime, but the Eagles could not get a shot off. Instead, Penn State took the first shot of the period. Levy did not fold, earning her only save of overtime.
Twelve seconds after Penn State took its try at BC’s goal, the Eagles called game. Kelly Browne and Alexie Guay assisted Newhook, who snuck the puck past Bothun for the win.
Despite failing to capitalize early, BC had most of its offensive chances during the first period. The Eagles’ 12 shots in the first period were more than their total from the second and third periods combined, with seven and four shots in each, respectively.
Penn State’s offense followed more of an arch, as the Nittany Lions shot 12 in the first period, 14 in the second, and nine in the third. Their first shot of overtime ended up being their only chance of the period, as BC capitalized on their first try.
BC won 33 faceoffs and lost 23. The Eagles also managed to win the faceoff at the start of each period, though they failed to score on any first possession. The night’s power play was lopsided, as Penn State played six minutes with an extra skater while the Eagles played just two. Despite the discrepancy, the Eagles’ four power-play shots were just two fewer than Penn State’s six. Neither team, however, capitalized on a power play.
Levy ended the game with 36 saves for BC, while Bothun finished with 23. The game was not without offense, but instead it was the spectacular performances by the two goalies that kept the teams quiet.
Levy started 10 games last season, allowing an average of 1.77 goals per game and posting a .944 save percentage. Her save percentage was No. 6 in the nation, while her goals against ranked No. 11. She transferred to BC from Minnesota State before her junior year.
Bothun starts her sophomore season this year after being named Penn State’s first-ever USCHO.com National Rookie of the Year last year.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor