Boston College women’s hockey head coach Katie Crowley could only bite her nails when team point leader Hannah Bilka stuffed the puck past Maine goaltender Loryn Porter on a lag-pull forehand finish to pot the game-winning goal just 27 seconds into overtime. As Bilka celebrated with teammate and captain Kelly Browne, and the two scuttled to the bench in a flurry of elation to celebrate the hard-fought battle, a hush came over Alfond Arena as Maine fans began to leave.
That is, until the PA announcement broke the silence of Black Bears’ fans to announce a review of the goal for a potential offsides turnover call. It would have been a tough pill to swallow had the call been made, but the goal remained to confirm the win. After starting the season 6–0–0, the Eagles have gone 2–7–0 in the nine games leading up to Friday’s 4–3 OT win over the Black Bears.
BC women’s hockey (9–7–0, 7–4–0 Hockey East) took home a win in the first game of a weekend series against the Black Bears (6–11–1, 4–6–1). Two middle-of-the-road groups thus far, either would get a boost if one was to notch the weekend contests in a pair and would climb the ladder to an entirely new tier of the Hockey East standings.
In the wake of a slow first period start, in which BC and Maine grappled for neutral zone pressure and back-checked with efficiency, BC forward Abby Newhook—the Hockey East Rookie of the Month—sent a puck in on an oddman three-on-two rush to get a look at the point for a redirect down low. With the strength in its favor, BC pounced on a powerplay opportunity with 12 minutes remaining in the first frame.
Stabilizing in the offensive zone, the Eagles zipped passes from the circles to the point and high slots, and Alexie Guay fired a blast from the center blue line off a feed from Browne to post a 1–0 lead. Despite the recent powerplay struggles for BC, it was a refreshing start to the game.
“We’ve been talking a lot about possession in our offensive zone,” Crowley said after the game. “When we have possession in the zone, we are so dangerous. I don’t mind obviously trying to score on a rush, but I think if we can establish that offensive zone pressure, we really have anybody on their heels.”
With that momentum, the Eagles took a commanding 2–0 lead on a forehand-backhand finish by Bilka with Porter totally out of position, earning the junior forward her sixth of the season.
BC continued to crash the corners, finding the net on well-placed chip-ins from the low-side circles, but reversed in the other direction. Senior forward Ali Beltz shoveled the puck in from the back end of the crease to climb back for Maine with only a one-goal deficit moving into the second period.
As the second period started, BC looked to be on its heels at every possession Maine had with the puck. BC goaltender Abigail Levy kept flying pucks from entering her crease and reached out to make a routine save with her glove four minutes into the period.
The Black Bears went on a raid from there, intercepting pucks at any given opportunity, and in a flash, the score was 2–2 on a one-time ricocheted blast from the point that found the stick of Morgan Trimper off a deflection.
The Eagles came fast in the third, taking the tide of the game, and forced low-slot chances on Porter off splitting dekes on zone entry. Gaby Roy lost possession on a two-on-one chance, but BC thrashed the net with full force to follow, and Caroline Goffredo elevated the puck to bounce in a go-ahead goal.
With six minutes to play, Beltz potted her second of the day with one hand in the deep crease. A load of commotion had broken out in front of the net, and Levy had no time to see what even happened. From there, Bilka took matters into her own hands and sealed the deal in overtime.
“If we’re getting two lines scoring, we’re excited about that, so we have to keep that up and find ways to produce,” Crowley said. “We have the fight, we have the power to do it, so we just gotta keep plugging away.”