Sports, Winter, Hockey, Women's Hockey

Bilka and Ham’s Third-Period Effort Isn’t Enough to Outlast Penn State

The first 50 minutes of Boston College women’s hockey’s matchup against Penn State on Friday looked entirely different from the last 10. BC’s failed to capitalize on a single scoring opportunity for nearly three whole periods, until senior Hannah Bilka and freshman Kate Ham reignited BC’s offense in the final minutes of the game. 

The Nittany Lions (3–4, 0–0 College Hockey America), aided by a stubborn Goaltender Josie Bothun, maintained a 3–0 lead until the third quarter, when Bilka and freshman Kate Ham got on the board. The Eagles (3–2, 2–0 Hockey East) came within one off Ham’s goal with three minutes to play, but couldn’t score again to tie the game, and fell to Penn State 3–2. 

Starting in net for the Eagles was freshman goaltender Grace Campell, who couldn’t match Penn State’s potent offensive line. Just under three minutes into the frame, Kiara Zannon poked the puck past Campell as she lunged across the crease, putting the Nittany Lions up 1–0. 

The Eagles struggled to maintain possession, but earned their first power play of the night 1:30 after Zannon’s goal. The Eagles failed to capitalize when up a skater, and just as the strength on the ice evened, Karley Garcia fired a far-side shot from the blue line to increase Penn State’s lead to two.

Penn State earned a power play with just six seconds left of the first frame, and entered the second frame up a skater, but failed to capitalize on the advantage. BC struggled to sustain pressure at the start of the frame, but puck possession by Abby Newhook and Bilka gave the Eagles scoring opportunities. BC peppered the Nittany Lions’ net with shots but failed to find the back of it. 

Campbell held strong for most of the second period, denying shots from Penn State, including a breakaway shot by freshman Courtney Correia. It wasn’t until BC turned over the puck in the 15th minute, that things started to crumble. Penn State overpowered BC’s defensive line as Leah Stecker found a gap to land a pass from Maddy Christian in the back of Campbell’s net, giving the Nittany Lions a 3–0 lead.

“They had a couple flurries there where I thought she did a good job of clearing puck,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said about Campbell. “Obviously it’s a big game with a ranked opponent, but I thought overall she played well.”

The final 10 minutes of play looked like an entirely different game for the Eagles. BC led in shots on goal in the third 12–6, and the tide changed as a determined Bilka put the Eagles on the board 14:30 into the period.

“I thought we finally started playing like we can, with urgency, in that last 10 minutes,” Crowley said.

Just minutes later, Kate Ham charged out of the penalty box and took a backhand shot to cut the deficit to 3–2. 

“She sees the ice really well and is confident in the plays that she makes,” Crowley said. “I was happy to see her score that goal and be put in that position to get that opportunity.”

Crowley highlighted the energy of the team in the final frame as the Eagles look at a quick turnaround to rematch the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon. 

“Hopefully that last 10 minutes can carry us over to this game,” she said. 

October 15, 2022