Number 1 ranked Boston College women’s hockey rose to 35-0-0 Friday afternoon at Kelley Rink. As the first game of a three games series, the Eagles' 5-2 win over Maine gives BC a strong start in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament.
Despite the victorious result, the continuation of the Eagles’ undefeated season seemed in danger for much of the afternoon. While the Eagles still maintained possession in Maine’s defensive end for the main portion of the first period, head coach Katie Crowley noted that BC came out slow to start the game. Maine’s Meghann Treacy can he held accountable for offsetting the Eagles normally fast-paced forte, refusing the Eagles’ momentum and limiting BC to a 2-1 lead with 19 saves at the end of the first period.
The second period brought a turn of events, however. A Maine goal by Victoria Hummel 5:00 into the second period changed everything. Suddenly, it was 2-2 -- a rare tie for the Eagles -- and all of Conte Forum could feel the energy shift and the play intensify. For what seemed like an eternal six minutes, the two teams engaged in a back-and-forth battle to come out on top, with the score remaining a standstill.
It wasn’t until Makenna Newkirk’s goal at 9:22 left in the second that the intensity began to subside as the Eagles were able to regain their confidence and style of play. A second put-away by the freshman and a stunning, spin-around backhanded finish by Dana Trivigno to end the 3rd period sealed off any chance the Black Bears had of routing the number one seed.
However, Maine came eager and gave the Eagles a tough fight.
“Every team that we play wants to be the team that beats us and we’ve talked about that, that teams are going to be hungry,” stated coach Crowley when questioned on the weight of being an undefeated team.
One clear component of Friday’s game was the heightened aggressiveness between the two teams and the increased pressure to win given the start of the postseason. Notably, BC’s Alex Carpenter was the subject of amplified play from Maine’s defense in today’s match-up.
“Alex has that target on her back every game, and as the play-offs start, teams will be getting even more physical with us and we have to fight through,” commented coach Crowley.
The pressure comes at the least of surprises, especially considering Carpenter’s recent repeated nomination for the Patty Kazmaier award, the award established for the best female hockey player in the NCAA. Carpenter was awarded the honor last year, and this year she is accompanied by senior teammates Haley Skarupa and Megan Keller in the nominations.
Maine’s fervent performance Friday afternoon set the tone for the battles that this unbeaten, untied BC team can expect in the postseason. Ultimately, the Eagles' grind against the added pressure Friday reflects their ability to endure heightened competition and still come out on top and compete in the tournaments.
BC faces off against the Black Bears once again Saturday night at Conte Forum. Another win would guarantee them a trip to the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament and boost their chances of securing their second Hockey East title.
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