The Eagles flew into Erie, PA riding high on a program best 12-game winning streak and feeling pretty good going into its weekend series against perennial women's hockey power Mercyhurst. The Lakers play in women's hockey's CHA conference, the weakest in the sport, but has always won the games it's needed to and made the national tournament.
This season, Mercyhurst has been riding the bubble on making the 8-team national tournament. As such it's one of the weakest seasons the Lakers have had.
Friday's game was all Eagles. BC seriously laid the lumber the whole game, outshooting Mercyhurst 14-3 in the first period and never looking back en route to a thorough 5-1 annihilation. BC's Alex Carpenter was the number one star of the game with two goals and an assist.
The big story of the game, however, was the injury to BC freshman phenom Haley Skarupa, Hockey East's leading scorer, who left the game with a separated shoulder.
After rolling over the Lakers Friday the Eagles were looking for more of the same, but really felt the hole in the lineup left by Skarupa. BC started out much slower and surprisingly fell behind 2-0 to a Lakers team that looked like they won the national title with each goal scored -- a tribute to how much respect the Eagles are getting this season.
BC was able to roar back to tie the game early in the third period but a quick Mercyhurst answer left the Eagles behind for good. Despite setting up for target practice for the rest of the third period -- the shots on goal after Mercyhurst's goal must have been about 13-1 -- BC couldn't get the puck past Laker goaltender Stephanie Ciampa, who really picked up her team with some incredible stops toward the end of the game. The Eagles fell 3-2.
It was a frustrating loss to a team that BC really should have handled, but it was evidence of how important Skarupa's scoring is to the team. It was the first time BC has scored less than three goals since October, the very last time the Eagles lost a game.
Fortunately, this loss doesn't mean all too much in the grand scheme of things for the Eagles. If BC can take care of business against the bottom half of Hockey East as the season winds down, BC should have itself firmly locked into a top 3 seed for the NCAA tournament. The winner of the BC vs. #2 Harvard game in the first round of the Beanpot should determine who locks down the #2 overall seed in the Pairwise, but even that won't likely make much of a difference. All BC really needs is to be a 2 or 3 overall seed to avoid undefeated Minnesota until the NCAA finals, and beyond that the tournament pairings for the quarterfinals are likely to be set by travel distance anyway.
BC takes on Providence and UConn next weekend.