One of these days, the Boston College women's hockey team will face one of these teams that is inferior to them, talent-wise, and come out from the word go -- dropping the hammer the way they have against some of the East's elite teams. On that day, the Eagles will rout their overmatched foe, put up a huge number, and begin a roll that sees them play with the confidence, swagger, and style that they played with for much of last year, en route to another Frozen Four appearance.
Today was not that day.
However, thanks to a furious third period comeback, a sneaky drive from the point by the underrated Meagen Mangene, and an undermanned opponent running out of gas, the Eagles escaped from Matthews Arena this afternoon with a well-earned 3-2 win over Northeastern - their first victory of the season after trailing by 2+ goals. The win vaulted BC (14-4-3, 9-1-1 HEA) past BU into first place by one point in the Hockey East standings, though BU has a game in hand; more importantly, it puts BC right on BU's bumper in 9th place in the all-important Pairwise rankings.
Playing with only 14 skaters today - later, reduced to 13 after Claire Santostefano went down with an injury in the second period - the Northeastern Huskies came out with gusto and urgency, capitalizing on a pair of very bad BC breakdowns to fly out to a 2-0 lead, with one goal in each of the first two periods. With BC dejected and with NU goaltender Chloe Desjardins in the midst of a career weekend, things were not looking good for the Eagles, who badly needed a win to jump-start their climb up the pairwise.
Despite following in the footsteps of their male BC counterparts with a power play that has been occasionally frustrating, a pair of Northeastern penalties near the midway point of the second period gave BC an opportunity to get back into the game with a 5-on-3. It should be noted that an outstanding rush by Kate Leary - who saw herself rightfully promoted to skating with the first line today - drew the trip on Northeastern's Colleen Murphy that started the rally.
With 10 seconds remaining in the two-man advantage, Emily Pfalzer knocked one past Desjardins in a scrum in front of the net to finally hit paydirt and get BC back into the game. Though BC couldn't equalize before the end of the second period, the signs were there that the shorthanded Huskies were fading fast and unable to keep up with BC's speed and pressure; a Skarupa rush in the period's final two minutes was only able to be contained by a hook by Hayley Masters, allowing the Eagles to go onto another power play; they didn't score, but they got some quality possession and set the tone for the third period rally.
After the second period, the shots on goal were 30-23 - a pretty fair reflection of a game which BC controlled territorially, but were certainly not dominating. But the third period was another story entirely. The Eagles came out and took advantage of their tired foe with a 16-shot barrage - and two of them managed to find the net.
The Eagles took an inopportune interference penalty 2:30 into the period, but killed it strongly - and in fact had numerous shorthanded opportunities. From there, it was one-way traffic, and Kristyn Capizzano capitalized with a goal at 5:41 to tie the game. Capizzano has come on strong of late and now has seven goals in her freshman campaign.
With a tie game, fresh legs, and a lot of puck possession, it seemed inevitable that BC would break through with a winner. They did just that at 11:57 when Meagen Mangene snuck a point shot through traffic and into the back of the net, allowing the BC bench to exhale and delivering the Eagles a win.
Mangene, despite not necessarily standing out offensively most of the time, has been a steadying force for the Eagles, leading the team in plus-minus at +16. The game-winning goal today was her second tally of the season, the other coming in BC's win at Cornell - another huge contest. The versatile senior has been an important part of the team and it was good to see her notch the game winner today.
In the final minutes, the Huskies never really threatened; they managed to get the extra attacker on for the final minute of the game, but didn't cause much trouble for Corinne Boyles, who put in a workmanlike performance and finished with 32 saves.
Ironically, NU goalie Chloe Desjardins broke her own personal record of 40 saves in a game, which she notched yesterday in the 1-1 tie at BC, with 43 saves today. But it wasn't enough.
Every game is a big game the rest of the way for BC, including their next series -a two-game homestand against Vermont, a team that has been solid but unspectacular this year. AKA, the exact kind of team BC has had all kinds of problems with. The Catamounts are in third place in Hockey East with 11 points, well behind BC (19) and BU (18). Both games start at 2 PM.