After last weekend’s brutal drubbing at the hands of #8 Quinnipiac, Boston College Women’s Hockey faced off against a much easier opponent in the Merrimack Warriors this week, giving the team a welcome opportunity to regroup. But even with the weaker opposition, the Eagles still needed to execute to get the wins. Last year’s three victories over Merrimack were by a combined four goals, and the slow start to this season didn’t give all that much confidence that BC would be able to control these games as much as one might hope. But Coach Crowley’s squad did what they needed to do in both games, taking the weekend home-and-home in a sweep with wins of 4-1 and 4-0 heading into a nice long week.
Boston College wasn’t quite as sharp as you might expect in Thursday evening’s game given the 4-1 final score. It was the definition of a “just okay” effort against a team that they should easily handle, and while BC did get find their goals when they needed them, they were still, bafflingly. outshot by the Warriors. Shots don’t always tell the whole story, and indeed the total count was heavily influenced by a 17-8 frame in favor of Merrimack, but in this case much of the game was very much a case of Boston College struggling to keep control of the puck when under pressure and making some panicked passes when attempting to break out of their defensive end — a frustrating characteristic of last year’s team.
But fast forward to Friday’s home leg of the weekend series at the friendly confines of Conte Forum, and the Eagles played like a different team entirely. Boston College took command of this one immediately, both on the scoreboard and in game flow, and controlled Merrimack the way they should. Three first period goals from Olivia O’Brien, Hannah Bilka, and Kate Ham put the game well out of reach, and a thoroughly dominant second period (shots 20-6 in favor of BC) choked the life out of any hope at all of a Merrimack comeback. Abby Newhook put home a fourth goal to wrap up the scoring, and in the third period Abbey Levy locked things down for the shutout.
Things get interesting for the Eagles next weekend as they host Penn State for a pair of games at home. The Nittany Lions open their year with five of their first six contests against Top 6 teams — and they already have a shocking season-opening 4-1 victory over #2 Wisconsin to their resume. Boston College fans will be very interested in seeing just how Penn State fares in their weekend series against #6 Colgate today and tomorrow leading into next week’s series against the Eagles. BC struggled last year in games against solid-but-not amazing teams, so next weekend’s matchups will be an important litmus test to see how Boston College has progressed from last season.