After holding a lead in the middle of the second period, Boston College’s women’s hockey suddenly found itself tied with just over five minutes to play and an undefeated start to its season on the line. New Hampshire scored with 5:04 remaining in regulation to stun the BC bench, tying the game. On the ensuing faceoff, Kelly Browne received a pass and took the puck down the ice to wrist home a shot and regain the lead just 13 seconds later.
In an extremely tight contest, the No. 4 Eagles (4–0–0, 2–0–0 Hockey East) prevailed to defeat the Wildcats (0–4–1, 0–4–1) by a score of 2–1 behind Browne’s game-winning goal.
The Eagles did just about everything but score in the opening period. By establishing a strong forecheck and cycle game, the Eagles kept the puck in their offensive zone for the majority of the first 20 minutes.
Their previously struggling power play even looked potent. They generated chance after chance, but UNH goaltender Ava Boutilier was up to the challenge, stopping every shot she faced. At the end of the first period, the Eagles had 18 shots on goal compared to the Wildcats’ seven.
Even though BC spent most of the period on the other end of the ice, BC netminder Abigail Levy held her own as well, shutting down every scoring chance the Wildcats developed. In the opening few minutes of the game, she made a key breakaway save that set the tone before the Eagles’ offense got going.
The second period was defined by special teams. The teams combined for six penalties, giving both the Eagles and Wildcats more space on the ice to work with. Still, neither team could break the ice, even on a power play.
Even though it will ultimately not go down as a power-play goal, the Eagles took the lead seemingly while on the man advantage. As a two-minute penalty expired, Boutilier saved a shot from Hannah Bilka. Jillian Fey crashed the net to find the loose puck in traffic and slotted it home to put the Eagles in front for the first time just two seconds after the power play ended.
Despite UNH forward Brooke Hammer still making her way back onto the ice from the penalty box, the goal will go down as even strength.
“I thought we had a lot of [power play] opportunities,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said.
“Usually, we try to wait for the best opportunity instead of shooting pucks and trying to get to the net. Putting Jillian out there was a last-minute switch. She’s been in that position before and scored goals there before.”
The Eagles’ penalty kill unit excelled in the first period, holding UNH scoreless despite four power-play opportunities. With all of these chances, Levy had much more work but continued to stand tall, stopping each of the nine shots she faced.
“I thought the PK was great,” Crowley said. “Your best penalty killer has to be your goalie. I can not say enough about Abby Levy and how well she’s played for us and the stops she has made for us in these four games.”
As the third period passed, the score remained 1–0 until the final five minutes of the game.
With just over five minutes left in regulation, UNH generated a 2-on-1 opportunity. The pass was deflected by the stick of a BC defender, but the puck fell right to Brianna Brooks in the slot who wired home a shot past Levy to miraculously tie up the game.
With the season’s second trip to overtime on the line, the Eagles bounced back immediately to retake the lead on Browne’s clutch goal.
“I was pretty angry when they tied up the game, so I was just trying to do anything I could to bring some energy back for our team,” Browne said.
The Wildcats pulled Boutilier late in the game to get an extra forward on the ice, but the Eagles held off the attack to maintain an unblemished record.
“We have a great team,” Crowley said. “They work hard, and we’re getting better in places that we need to get better every game. When you’re put under these situations when they come back and tie it, it shows what the character is of your team. We have that. We’re pushing through these games and showing that.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff