For Jerry York's Boston College men's hockey program, the Frozen Four has become less of a goal and more of an expected annual destination. At this rate, the same will soon be true for Katie King-Crowley's women's program. With a 3-1 victory over Harvard on Saturday at Conte Forum, BC advanced to the women's Frozen Four for the third straight season, and the fourth time in the past seven years. The Eagles now await the winner of the #1 Minnesota vs. #8 North Dakota game in next Friday night's national semifinal.
This game was anything but a foregone conclusion for the Eagles, who came down from the heights of their long mid-season winning streak to struggle down the stretch, missing out on the Beanpot, the Hockey East regular season title, and the Hockey East tournament title. When Mary Parker opened the scoring for Harvard with four minutes left in the first period, it looked like the Eagles were continuing their late-season stumble.
All it took was 60 seconds and a lucky break to change BC's fortunes. At 17:00 of the first, Haley Skarupa chipped a puck toward goal that slowly trickled through Harvard's goalie Emerance Maschmeyer to tie the game right back up.
With Harvard averaging just a tick over 1 GA per game this season (38 in 33 games(!)), it would take a big effort to get past the Crimson after falling behind early. BC got that big effort in the second period, scoring the decisive goals that punched their ticket to Minneapolis: the game winner, another trickler through Maschmeyer's legs by Caitlin Walsh to put BC up 2-1 at 2:11, and a beautiful tip by Alex Carpenter to redirect a Blake Bolden shot and put BC up 3-1 with under 5 minutes to play in the frame.
The third period mainly consisted of BC sitting back and running out the clock, with Harvard outshooting BC 13-3 in the frame. However, there weren't too many grade A chances, as BC did a good job of seeing the game out.
Elsewhere in the NCAA tournament...
#7 Mercyhurst stunned #2 Cornell, 4-3 in overtime. So much for Grant's pick of Cornell winning the national championship. Womp womp.
#3 BU and #6 Clarkson are currently tied 1-1 in the second period.
BC awaits the winner of #1 Minnesota vs. #8 North Dakota, also known as "Minnesota," in the national semifinal. That "contest" begins at 5 PM.