To say that Boston College Women’s Hockey has had an up-and-down season is an understatement. After starting the year 6-0-0 the Eagles crashed back to Earth, losing a whopping 11 of their next 15 games and falling below .500 on the season thanks to some injuries and sporadic COVID issues. For a team that had NCAA tournament hopes, it was an incredibly depressing stretch of hockey, and it felt like it the sad times would never end.
But all of a sudden, things have turned on a dime. You truly could not have predicted the turnaround that the Eagles have put together over the last few weeks over increasingly difficult competition, and it has all culminated in by far Boston College’s biggest victory of the year. The Eagles upset the No. 3 ranked Northeastern Huskies 3-1 at Matthews Arena on Tuesday night to advance to the Beanpot semifinals — their fifth win in a row on the season — and all of a sudden, BC is just one game away from winning their first piece of hardware in four years.
Boston College has had a pretty unconventional M.O. this season which has consisted of giving up a ton of shots, letting Abbey Levy go off in net, and taking advantage of their offensive opportunities when they get them. That was exactly how the game started, as the Huskies blitzed the Eagles in shots throughout the opening period. But you could tell right away that Abbey Levy was going to have an exceptional night. She was making elite save after elite save...
1P | Abbey Levy coming up BIG early pic.twitter.com/gEOLTlxBJA— Boston College Women's Hockey (@BC_WHockey) February 2, 2022
2P | Levy gloves it down! pic.twitter.com/Dh84TUU68d— Boston College Women's Hockey (@BC_WHockey) February 2, 2022
...and you just felt like if BC could scratch and scrape for a goal, they just might be able to hold that lead for the entire game.
That’s not exactly how things played out, but it wasn’t too far off.
BOSTON COLLEGE GOAL #1: 14:41 of the 1st period
Alexie Guay (Unassisted)
BC 1, NU 0
Totally against the run of play, thanks in no small part to Levy’s otherworldliness, the Eagles got their early goal. It came off a pretty nice forced turnover in Northeastern’s own end, with BC pressuring twice and finally winning the puck inside the blue line. Guay skated in to the faceoff dot after some stickhandling to get around the defender and rifled home a tremendous wrist shot to beat reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner Aerin Frankel, putting BC up 1-0.
From there it was an interesting contest. Northeastern kept the pressure on pretty much nonstop at least through most of the second period, with Levy standing tall on every opportunity and getting a little help from her friends.
2P | There are back checks...and then there is what Hannah Bilka just did... pic.twitter.com/jjb8EcNe0N— Boston College Women's Hockey (@BC_WHockey) February 2, 2022
That’s all-world forward Hannah Bilka breaking up a potential 2-on-0 with a sensational back check to help her goaltender keep the Huskies off the board.
On to the third period we went with the Eagles still ahead 1-0, and things started to get weird.
NORTHEASTERN GOAL #1: 7:35 of the 3rd period
Chloé Aurard (Peyton Anderson)
BC 1, NU 1
As has been the case a little too often this year, it was a defensive breakdown that finally did BC in. With a tired Northeastern skater entering the Boston College end, the Eagles botched their coverages and allowed Chloé Aurard, one of NU’s most skilled players, to come in all alone on Levy. Aurard was able to dance around the goalkeeper and put the puck home to tie the game at 1-1.
The game really turned into a pressure cooker from there. The first two periods went penalty-free, though it wasn’t from a lack of aggressive gameplay as the referees were clearly trying to let things go. Then we got to the final frame and what we ended up with was some kind of cursed Hockey East reverse-felony-time situation with penalty after penalty getting called all over the place. Players were sent to the box at the 4, 8, 9, 13, and 15 minute marks of the third period. Chaos.
But unbelievably, despite Northeastern having the nation’s 2nd best power play and BC having the 36th (!), the Eagles were the ones who took advantage.
BOSTON COLLEGE GOAL #2 (GWG): 9:05 of the 3rd period
Alexie Guay (Kelly Browne, Abby Newhook)
BC 2, NU 1
Alexie Guay doesn’t need your fancy designed plays! The junior defender had the stars align in front of her with players screening Frankel and just wound up and blasted the puck straight in from long range.
That made it 2-1 Eagles, but the game was far, far from over. BC had to withstand the Northeastern attack for the final 11 minutes, and truth be told, the Eagles did a pretty great job of it. Despite killing penalties and despite having to defend the lead, BC really hunkered down defensively and didn’t allow anything incredibly serious to find its way through to Levy. Shots in the third period were just 9-9, which was one of the more remarkable third period efforts that Boston College has put up this season given the opponent.
Of course, the whole ending was still Heart Attack City, but BC’s other Abby helped finish the job in the end.
BOSTON COLLEGE GOAL #3 (ENG): 19:32.3 of the 3rd period
Abby Newhook (Kelly Browne, Hannah Bilka)
BC 3, NU 1 — FINAL
Without a doubt, you would have to call this one of the best goaltending performances by a Boston College Eagle in recent memory. It brought to mind a particularly historic Beanpot semifinal from the 2006-2007 season in which Molly Schaus made an unholy 73 saves to beat No. 6 Harvard 4-3 in 3OT at Conte Forum. If you want to get existential about it, that one win was the catalyst that vaulted the Eagles into national contender status for years to come.
The Eagles will have a full weekend of action in between now and the Beanpot championship game next Tuesday. They’ll take on New Hampshire and Boston University in a couple league games on Friday and Saturday — surprisingly important contests with the middle of the Hockey East standings a total mess — before facing off against No. 6 Harvard next Tuesday night at 7:30pm with the Beanpot title on the line.