As the wins piled up throughout the winter - 10, 20, 30+ - it didn't necessarily feel like anything special was brewing for the Boston College women's hockey team, aside from the level of regular season performance we've come to expect from the Eagles since Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa arrived on campus. The Eagles were shredding Hockey East competition, but none of it felt like it mattered for much of anything - not with the specter of last year's failure in three trophy situations lingering over the team's head, along with four straight years of watching BU lift the Hockey East title despite almost certainly being the lesser team on paper.
The Beanpot was the first hint that something really special could be going on with this group. BC didn't just win the trophy and begin to exorcise last year's demons - they went full scorched earth, dominating the Beanpot like no team has in the modern era of women's hockey. BC faced the team that haunted them last year, Harvard, in the Beanpot opener, and played their best game of the season to bulldoze the Crimson 8-0. One week later, facing an outstanding Northeastern team, BC again left no doubt, winning 7-0.
Finishing a perfect regular season wasn't necessarily a surprise for BC given their talent gap over the rest of the Hockey East field, but it requires a level of focus day after day, including turning around and facing the same Northeastern Huskies three days later in a regular season game. NU gave BC all they could handle, but BC pulled out a come from behind 5-3 win and clinched the regular season trophy. BC then won three more to finish off the perfect regular season.
In the Hockey East tournament, everyone expected another rematch with Northeastern, but the Huskies stunningly fell to BU - giving BC yet another chance to extinguish bad memories from recent years. OF COURSE it had to be BU in the Hockey East final, the team that has somehow, some way won 4 straight Hockey East titles.
If anyone was worried BC would be tight and nervous facing BU, they removed those doubts quickly, scoring two fast goals in the first period and obliterating BU in the first period. While the official scorer claimed shots were 17-2 BC in the frame, it certainly didn't seem like BU had any actual shots on goal until nearly halfway through the game. It was a thorough demolition job by a team playing angry.
And so the next part of the redemption tour was complete, with a Hockey East title in the bag for the first time since 2011 and BU dispatched.
BC now has to face a familiar foe in Northeastern, but should they get past the Huskies, they'll have a chance to really and truly shatter a decade+ of demons in the Frozen Four.
If the Eagles make the NCAA final, their likely opponent would be Wisconsin or Minnesota, two teams that have repeatedly stood in their way in heartbreaking and dramatic fashion in games where BC wore the underdog/upstart hat. It was BC that gave Minnesota perhaps their biggest threat when the Gophers completed a 41-0-0 perfect season, as the Eagles took the Gophers to OT on their own home ice in the NCAA semifinal.
Unfortunately for BC, they couldn't finish the job, losing to Minnesota in OT. This year's seniors were freshmen when they were on the receiving end of the Gophers' perfect season; now they have the chance to possibly preserve their own.
Last but not least on the BC Redemption Tour is one for the old timers. The Frozen Four is being held at the Whittemore Center at UNH, home to the program that completely dominated Hockey East in the early years of its women's league. While it feels like decades ago at this point, it wasn't until 2010 that BC finally even won a single game over UNH at Lake Whitt; UNH went over 5 season without ever losing a game at home, and games against the 'Cats were always measuring sticks.
While UNH's success feels like a distant memory right now, it would add an extra cherry on top for BC fans to see the Eagles grab the crown at the Whitt.
First thing's first, though - BC plays a very strong Northeastern team on Saturday at 1 PM at Conte Forum. If they win, the Frozen Four beckons, and the redemption tour continues.