Sports, Winter, Hockey, Women's Hockey

Bilka’s Late Score Not Enough for BC to Secure Beanpot Title, No. 15 Eagles Fall to No. 5 Northeastern 2–1 

The last time No. 15 Boston College women’s hockey faced off against No. 5 Northeastern in the Women’s Beanpot final was in 2017, when the Eagles secured their eighth all-time title. 

But this year, the Huskies shut out BC in every matchup prior to the Beanpot and entered Conte Forum Tuesday night for their final contest against BC as Hockey East regular season champions, a title they secured three weeks before the conclusion of regular season play.  

BC (18–13–1, 15–10–0 Hockey East) took the ice looking to extend its win streak to five games and turn the tide after falling a point shy of the trophy in the 2022 Beanpot final. And while the Eagles broke Northeastern’s (28–2–1, 22–2–1) three-game shutout streak, BC fell just short of the title for a second year in a row, losing 2–1 in the 44th Women’s Beanpot final.

“I was really proud of how hard we fought, especially in that third period, but through the whole game,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said. “Obviously, the team across the way is a very good team. Probably a little bit of nerves in that first period but then we started to settle in.” 

The Eagles opened the first period buzzing with pressure in the offensive zone, but Northeastern responded by forechecking in the neutral zone and forcing turnovers.

Hannah Bilka and Abby Newhook bolstered BC’s stamina in the opening minutes of the frame, but the swift reflexes of Northeastern goaltender Gwyneth Philips halted their chances. 

The Huskies received the first power play of the night when BC’s Sidney Fess drew a holding penalty 7:56 into the first frame. Entering the contest, BC stood second in Hockey East with a penalty kill percentage of 91.9 percent. 

With seconds left on the power play, Northeastern’s Megan Carter sent a tape-to-tape pass to Mia Brown, who fired the puck over goaltender Abigail Levy’s shoulders to notch the Huskies’ first goal of the night halfway through the first period. 

The Eagles’ defense opened the second period by pinching the offensive zone and going on breakaways. 

BC’s created breakaway opportunities for Bilka and Newhook, but each of their chances fell short. BC’s inability to score compounded when it faced a second penalty 2:19 into the second period, but the Eagles killed it off successfully. 

“I think, in those types of games, it’s dire situations,” Levy said. “You just got to put your body on the line. Whatever situation you’re in, you just try to stop the puck from going in the net.”

BC’s energy quickly deflated as a Jules Constantinople point shot deflected off the body of Maureen Murphy and flew just above Levy’s pads. Not only was Levy unable to locate the puck, but she was without a stick as the shot found the back of the net for a 2–0 Northeastern lead 7:40 into the second period.  

“Everybody just has to be aware when that line’s out there,” Crowley said. “They’re good, they’re experienced, and they’ve been through a lot. Whatever line is up against them has to be ready at any given moment. I thought we did a pretty good job today.” 

The Huskies seized possession of the neutral zone for the remainder of the period and forced shots against Levy, who made 34 saves on the night. Levy’s dominance lifted the Eagles above Harvard in the Beanpot semifinal, during which she recorded 30 saves and a shutout. 

“It’s fun hockey when we play against [Northeastern],” Levy said “They’re an amazing team. We’re an amazing team. … It’s not a walk in the park for us. It’s not a walk in the park for them.” 

An aggressive opening to the third period frustrated BC’s bench, as no penalties were called against the Huskies when Cayla Barnes absorbed contact from Northeastern’s Taze Thompson, and Kelly Browne’s stick was forced out of her hands. 

With under three minutes remaining in the third frame, Crowley pulled Levy from between the pipes in exchange for an extra skater—a last-minute bid to break Northeastern’s shutout streak. 

And BC did just that. With 1:34 left to play in regulation, Bilka put BC on the board with a rebound shot after an Alexie Guay point shot popped out.

“When we knew it was on the line, I was really proud of how we played to try to tie it up and to get on the board again,” Crowley said. “We were so close there in the end.” 

But the Eagles’ attempts to equalize the score in the final minutes fell short, as the Huskies’ defensive pressure clogged shooting lanes to secure a 2–1 win and their 17th Women’s Beanpot trophy. 

“This loss sucks, but we have big games coming up,” Levy said. “We have playoffs coming up. That’s important. We still want to end our season on a win, so we’re looking forward to that. Take this, put it in the back of our pocket, and then move on.” 

February 14, 2023