Cayla Barnes missed out on the entire 2021–22 women’s hockey season while training full-time with the U.S. National Team and competing at the 2022 Olympics. In Boston College women’s hockey’s season opener against Franklin Pierce on Saturday, it was like she had never left.
Barnes recorded a goal and an assist on Saturday to lead the Eagles (1–0) to a 4–1 victory over Franklin Pierce.
“I have a great team surrounding me here, so it made it easy,” Barnes said about her transition back into college hockey. “I’ve always been kind of an offensive defenseman. … Being able to contribute to that [offense] and help put pucks in the net is something I hope to do this year.”
The Eagles looked shaky at the beginning of the first period, as a handful of ill-advised pinches on the offensive blue line allowed the Ravens (0–1) to generate chances on the rush. BC goaltender Abigail Levy jumped into action on multiple occasions in the first 10 minutes of play, and she stopped all six shots she faced in the first period. Levy surpassed 3,000 career saves in the win.
After surviving a shaky start, the Eagles spent most of the latter half of the first period in the offensive zone. The Hannah Bilka–Olivia O’Brien–Abby Newhook line created the most grade-A scoring chances of any line in the scoreless first period, the best of which came when Bilka shot a backhand that went just wide in the 12th minute.
BC head coach Katie Crowley attributed the slow start to a mix of rust and inexperience.
“I think a little bit of both … we finally started to get really rolling once that third came along but [there was] still a little bit of rust and we have lots to work on,” she said.
BC started the second period playing high-speed hockey but struggled to beat Ravens’ goalie Lucy Hanson. The Eagles squandered a power-play chance midway through the period, but Barnes broke the deadlock on a deflected wrist shot from the slot with 7:19 remaining in the period.
BC’s lead didn’t last long, however, as Franklin Pierce’s Ava Kison tucked a rebound into an open net to tie the game at one apiece with just under four minutes left in the second frame.
The Eagles poured on the pressure in the closing minutes of the period, but a couple of outstanding saves by Franklin Pierce goaltender Suzette Faucher thwarted BC’s attack. Faucher made 33 stops through the first two periods.
The Eagles took the lead for good eight minutes into the third period when freshman forward Kate Ham fired a wrist shot over the glove of Hanson from a sharp angle. Bilka made it 3–1 just two minutes later with a circus goal that popped up and over Hanson.
“I just took it to the net, and good things happened,” Bilka said.
The Eagles tacked on a fourth goal with five minutes remaining when Barnes toe-dragged a Ravens defenseman and found Gaby Roy for an easy backdoor tap-in.
Franklin Pierce appeared to run out of gas late in the game, as it struggled to manufacture any sort of comeback. The relentless forecheck and superior speed of the Eagles proved too much for the Ravens to handle.
“We have a deep team this year,” Crowley said. “I was really proud of all four lines [and] all seven D out there. … It was a full team effort.”