Last year was, by most standards, a pretty good one for the Boston College women's hockey team. They set a school record for wins in a season (27) and consecutive wins (13). They ended the season top 4 nationally. They rolled out a forward who is now on the first line for the US Olympic team. And they gave #1-ranked, unbeaten Minnesota all they could handle in the Frozen Four, falling in overtime to the juggernaut.
But despite all of this, the season lacked for hardware (sorry, Grant - the Nutmeg Classic doesn't really count). Four times, BC had a chance to win a trophy. Four times, they fell short.
They gave up 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the Beanpot final to Northeastern in February. A few weeks later, an inexplicable tie at Vermont took them out of the running in a two-horse race with BU for the regular season Hockey East title They were bounced again by Northeastern in the Hockey East tournament, then lost to Minnesota in the NCAAs. As good a team as they were, it was ultimately a season of frustration.
That's why it was so refreshing and so gratifying this past week to see BC have the opportunity to win two trophies and get the job done each time. On the heels of last week's Beanpot win, the Boston College women's hockey team sewed up their first ever Hockey East regular season title, thumping Maine 4-1 to pick up a weekend sweep and eliminate BU from contention for first place.
It looked for a while like the drama might unnecessarily carry into next week's regular season-ending home-and-home with Boston University, as the Black Bears doggedly kept BC off the board despite the Eagles' 21-13 shot advantage.
Thankfully, it did not take long in the third period for the Eagles to find the net - nor did it take long for the floodgates to open after that,
At 4:13 of the final frame, Haley Skarupa (who else?) notched her 20th goal of the season from Andie Anastos - just the start of another sensational day for Skarupa.
Danielle Doherty added what proved to be the game winner three minutes later, assisted by Kate Leary and TAylor Wasylk. Then, Skarupa took over, scoring two more goals, numbers 21 and 22 on the season, to complete her hat trick. Skarupa's hat trick was interrupted by a Maine goal, making the final 4-1.
Fifth year senior Corinne Boyles - making her final run at titles after a long and successful career at BC - picked up another win between the pipes for the Eagles, who improved to 23-5-3 on the season, further cementing their spot as #6 in the Pairwise rankings.
The scene shifts to a home-and-home with BU next weekend, which at one point looked like it might decide each team's tournament fate. While BC will want to leave themselves some wiggle room in the event of upsets in conference tournaments, they should be in good shape to make the tournament now. For BU, on the other hand, a late season plummet has them down to #11 and needing a Hockey East tournament crown to make it into the NCAAs.
Saturday's home game at 2 PM will also be Senior Day for BC - a chance to salute a senior class that has seen a lot of success in maroon and gold, but is still hoping to take that next step up. They now have two trophies in the bag for 2014, and have two more in their sights before their careers at BC come to a close.