Before checking into Friday’s matchup against No. 15 Boston College women’s hockey at the start of the second period, No. 13 Providence goaltender Hope Walinski had never played a minute of college hockey.
One day later on Saturday afternoon at Kelley Rink, Providence head coach Matt Kelly called upon his sophomore netminder to make her first collegiate start. Backed by Walinski’s 33-save shutout, Providence (20–10–4, 15–8–4 Hockey East) downed BC (19–14–1, 16–11–0) by a score of 3–0. The Friars netted a goal in the second period, followed by a pair in the third period en route to the dominant victory.
“Overall, I’m happy with the way we played—I know that’s weird to say with a 3–0 game—but I thought we played well,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said.
The Eagles had plenty of chances to level the game at one late in the second period, but Walinski stood tall, thwarting every BC scoring opportunity. A back-breaking goal from Sara Hjalmarsson 51 seconds into the third frame put the Friars in control for good.
“Sometimes you run into a hot goalie,” Crowley said. “Like I said, I thought we played really, really well.”
In what was an evenly matched first period, the Friars outshot BC 10–8. Both teams traded power-play opportunities, but neither could find the back of the net.
Perhaps BC’s most dangerous scoring chance came with about four minutes remaining in the period. Hannah Bilka found an open Caroline Goffredo near the left circle, and Goffredo ripped a wrist shot that Walinski snagged for a glove save.
The Friars created their share of chances as well, highlighted by a Lindsay Bochna breakaway at the 14:16 mark. The junior was one on one against BC goaltender Abigail Levy but her shot missed the net.
Bochna, however, redeemed herself 2:48 into the second period. Hjalmarsson poked the puck past BC defenseman Deirdre Mullowney into the offensive zone where Noemi Neubauerova and Bochna were all alone. Neubauerova dished the puck to Bochna who calmly slid the puck under Levy’s pad to make it a 1–0 game.
“I think we had some bad changes in our neutral zone,” Crowley said of the play leading up to the goal. “We didn’t get the puck deep and had a few bad changes there and gave them an odd-man rush.”
The Eagles had plenty of opportunities to respond after the goal, including a 5-on-3 advantage at the 7:27 mark, but Walinski remained a brick wall in net. The sophomore made saves on shots from Gaby Roy and Kate Ham to keep the Friars ahead.
“I think they’re moving pucks pretty well,” Crowley said of BC’s power-play unit. “Obviously we’d like to bury more on there, but we’re getting the scoring opportunities.”
BC continued to swarm the Providence net, but couldn’t convert on any chances. Despite a 17–8 advantage in shots on goal, the second period ended with the Eagles in a one goal deficit.
The Friars put an end to any BC momentum when they doubled their lead 51 seconds into the final frame. Lily Martinson controlled the puck near the end boards before delivering a no-look, through-the-legs pass to Hjalmarsson, who jammed the puck through Levy’s pads for her team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
“I thought we were coming on strong there,” Crowley said. “Obviously, you don’t want to give one up in the first shift of the third period.”
BC failed to generate much offensive momentum after Hjalmarsson’s goal and failed to mount a comeback attempt. The Eagles were forced to kill a penalty with 7:24 remaining in the period and couldn’t find the Friars’ net.
“I still thought we were gonna break through there and score,” Crowley said. “[The Hjalmarsson goal] was early enough where we still had time to get scoring opportunities after that.”
Bochna tacked on an empty-net goal with just over two minutes left in regulation to make it 3–0. Walinski stopped the Eagles’ final shots in the final minutes, putting the finishing touches on her shutout.