Close, hard-fought games can often be determined by whichever teams’ most experienced players persevere.
In Boston College women’s hockey’s matinee against Vermont Saturday, two of the Eagles’ most senior players—Abigail Levy and Hannah Bilka—made the biggest plays of the night to deliver the No. 15 Eagles (6–3–1, 5–1–0 Hockey East) a 4–3 OT win over the No.14 Catamounts (5–4–1, 3–2–1).
BC goaltender Levy made 40 saves on the day.
“[Levy] played great all weekend,” said head coach Katie Crowley. “This Vermont team was very dangerous offensively. She made a lot of great saves and let our forwards create for themselves.”
A hooking penalty on Vermont’s Corinne McCool put the Eagles on a power play, and they converted, but not before some controversy. The play started with Bilka carrying the puck into the zone and firing a shot into traffic past Vermont goaltender Jessie McPherson.
The controversy surrounded what happened to the puck in between when it left Bilka’s stick and when it hit the back of Vermont’s goal. It initially appeared to deflect off of Vermont’s Sini Karjalainen, but the Vermont defender immediately argued that BC’s Cayla Barnes intentionally kicked it in. After a long review, the referees determined that Barnes contacted the puck inadvertently, and she was credited with the Eagles’ first goal of the day.
A BC power play struck again several minutes later when McPherson couldn’t control Gaby Roy’s shot from the blue line, and Kate Ham poked it past McPherson to double the Eagles’ lead.
“We’ve been struggling on [the power play],” Crowley said. “It was great to get two goals on the power play. Our PK overall was pretty good today. It was a different game today than yesterday with a lot more penalties being called.”
Vermont cut the Eagles’ lead in half just before the first intermission after Theresa Schafzahl lasered it past Levy from the blue line. Officials reviewed the play for offsides, but for the second time in the first period, the referees ruled a the goal was good after a long discussion.
The two goalies continued to duel throughout the second period, with several incredible saves coming from Levy and McPherson to keep the offenses off the board. McPherson denied Bilka on a shorthanded chance that looked like it was surely bound for the back of the net.
McPherson’s heroics wouldn’t be enough to keep Bilka off the board entirely, as she floated a backhanded shot into traffic in front of Vermont’s goal. McPherson didn’t seem to see the puck until it was already too late, and BC went up 3–1.
Vermont fired back, as Schafzal, the Catamounts’ captain, scored her second goal of the day by shooting it just past Levy’s left pad on the power play.
Vermont dominated the third period, culminating with a Lily Humphrey equalizer that beat Levy.
A nightmare almost ensued for BC minutes later, as with just three seconds left in regulation, Vemont found itself with a 2-on-0 opportunity to steal the game. The only person in Burlington who didn’t flinch was Levy, as she kicked out McCool’s shot with ease, sending the game to overtime.
Graduate student Kelly Browne showed her experience in OT by making a great play to net the extra point in OT. Browne picked the Catamount defender’s pocket, skating down the ice to put the puck just over McPherson’s shoulder and ensuring the Eagles came back down I-89 with two points instead of one on the weekend.
“Kelly’s played a lot of minutes for us in those opportunities,” Crowley said. “She’s great for our program.”