A year splattered with unexpected disappointments held form yesterday afternoon in the Women's Hockey East championship. Despite holding a lead through almost the entire game, the Eagles fell late to Boston University 3-2, handing the conference title to the Terriers for the third straight season.
It's very difficult to get a handle on this season. Yesterday's game was a microcosm for everything that has gone right and gone wrong over the course of the year, both the strengths and weaknesses.
BC came out very strong in the first period and went right to work peppering BU senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry.
Goal #1 -- 1:15 of the 1st period: Dana Trivigno (Kaliya Johnson)
BC 1, BU 0
Kaliya Johnson was one of the bright spots in the game yesterday. She was involved in both goals and was really responsible defensively. Here she takes a deep slapshot from the point, which wouldn't be too dangerous to BU were it not for the fact that Trivigno is on the doorstep. She's getting totally manhandled by two BU players but manages to get a stick on the puck to have it trickly past Sperry.
BC continued the assault for much of the period, but a BC penalty midway through gave the Terriers a chance to catch their breath. They would convert early on in the penalty to tie the game, but BC responded well, continuing the strong period and answering with a late goal of their own.
Goal #2 -- 19:34 of the 1st period: Taylor Wasylk (Kaliya Johnson, Emily Pfalzer)
BC 2, BU 1
It's tough to tell in the GIF, but I'm pretty sure that's Johnson again cruising in across the blue line taking the initial shot. Sperry makes the initial save but Wasylk is there to throw in the rebound.
Unfortunately for BC, that was the end of the strong play for quite a while. It seemed in the second period that they thought they could cruise their way to the win and didn't just lift their foot off the gas, but slammed on the brakes.
BU controlled the entire second period and outshot BC a whopping 14-5, totally out of charactor for BC against the Terriers this year. BU didn't score any goals, but the momentum carried over into the third period. An early BC penalty on Haley McLean for goaltender interference put BU back on the power play and they would convert a second time to draw even. A few minutes later, BU rode the wave of momentum to yet another goal, this off the stick of freshman Maddie Elia.
After a few more lethargic minutes out of BC it looked like they finally realized that they were going to have to get up and go if they wanted to win the game. The last 5 minutes of the game was a constant barrage and constant pressure in the offensive zone, including one BU turnover right in front of the net that Haley Skarupa couldn't convert on for the late equalizer. The buzzer sounded and a dejected BC team left Hyannis without any hardware for the third straight season.
If there is a silver lining to the loss (as annoying as it is to find one after such a disappointment), it's that it gave BC a much more favorable NCAA tournament bracket. At the 6pm selection show, the Eagles learned that would be travelling to Clarkson for the quarterfinals. Had they won, they likely would have had to head west to Wisconsin, who prior to losing in their conference tournament was solidly the #2 team in the country behind the Gophers.
Here is how the final Pairwise shook out:
No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers -- WCHA Champions
No. 2 Cornell Big Red -- ECAC Champions
No. 3 Clarkson Golden Knights
No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers
No. 5 Harvard Crimson
No. 6 Boston College Eagles
No. 7 Mercyhurst Lakers
--- Boston University Terriers -- Hockey East Champions
The committee didn't have much trouble in arranging this year's bracket (although there was a bit of a controversy for the #7 spot between Mercyhurst, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, and [among some irrational midwesterners] North Dakota), since perfect bracket integrity not only yielded the minimum number of flights (2), but also resulted in not a single intraconference matchup (not a factor in their selection, but still desirable nonetheless):
NR Boston University @ No. 1 Minnesota
No. 7 Mercyhurst @ No. 2 Cornell
No. 6 Boston College @ No. 3 Clarkson
No. 5 Harvard @ No. 4 Wisconsin
BC now not only gets to stay east, but will also avoid both western powerhouses Minnesota and Wisconsin until the NCAA finals. So, like I said. Silver lining.
We'll have full coverage coming at you this week, including a full tournament preview and prediction. Can anyone unseat the Gophers? Stay tuned...