On Saturday, October 4, the Boston College women’s hockey team opened its season with a double-header at Minnesota-Duluth. In the first game the teams tied 3-3, and in the second Duluth triumphed with a score of 2-5. This past weekend the Eagles bounced back to get two solid wins against University of Maine, outscoring the Bears with a combined double-header score of 7-2.
After going undefeated in the regular 2015-2016 season, losing only the national championship to finish the 2015-16 season at 40-0-1, the results of the first two games may be worrisome to fans. Many are beginning to question if the graduation of key seniors, Alex Carpenter, Lexi Bender, and Meghan Grieves is too much for the Eagles to handle.
In her final season as an Eagle, Carpenter was a dominant force. With the most points scored, 43 goals and 45 assists, she was a key forward player. In her junior year she was awarded the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation's top female hockey player. In her senior year, Carpenter was again a finalist for this prize. Despite the loss of Carpenter and the others, there is reason to believe that the team still has power in both players and coaches.
The Eagles retained talented players such as Kenzie Kent, Megan Keller, Kristyn Capizzano, Katie Burt, and Grace Bizal. Last season, Burt played the entirety of almost every game between the pipes and had an impressive save percentage of .944. As a junior, she is an essential upperclassman returning to the team.
The team also gained the noticeable power of freshmen Delaney Belinskas and Caitrin Lonergan. These freshmen scored the lone goals in the 2-5 loss at Minnesota-Duluth. Both of these players were standouts in their high school careers, looking to translate that dominance to the college level. In her senior year at Williston Northampton, Belinskas was named to the All-American Second Team after a run of 20 consecutive victories. In Lonergan’s junior year at Noble and Greenough, she tallied 15 goals and 43 assists in 28 games.
Lonergan also has experience playing alongside teammates Bizal, Burt, Kali Flanagan, Keller, and Makenna Newkirk in USA Hockey’s annual Women’s National Festival, which is an annual training session used to select two 22-player teams to play against Canada in a series.
These six players are not the only members of the program who have spent time training with a national team; the Eagles have added assistant coach Gillian Apps to their already stellar coaching staff. Apps is a three-time Olympic gold medalist with Canada, playing on the Canadian national team for 14 years. She will work under Head Coach Katie Crowley and Assistant Courtney Kennedy to focus on training the team’s forwards.
The first weekend is not a red alert for the team, and it should not even be a cause for concern. Playing the first two games of the season provides opportunity to try out new plays or lines on the ice; sometimes things are successful and sometimes they are not. The team is still adjusting after a large offensive loss with the graduation of the Class of 2016. It will have to readjust and regroup, but there is no doubt that the Eagles can be as successful, if not more successful, than last season.
The strong leadership and experience of the upperclassmen, strong-as-ever Coach Crowley and the new talent brought to the team will find a way to work together so that the team can win big when it matters the most. Though there has been a clear change since last season, these women can find success. They may not win every game this year as they did last season, but they have the chance to win a National Championship (even with a few losses under their belt), something they have yet to get a hold of.
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