For the last several weeks, the Eagles have been playing with a short bench with some important players on the shelf.
But reinforcements have arrived, and just in time for the postseason. Forward Makenna Newkirk and defenseman Caroline Ross were back in the lineup for the first time in weeks, and while there are still some Eagles missing, this is, in all likelihood, as full a roster as we’re going see for the remainder of the year.
The infusion of fresh legs did wonders for BC. The Eagles came out strong, and thoroughly dominated Merrimack on their way to a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of the Hockey East quarterfinals.
Boston College Goal #1 (GWG): 5:42 of the 1st period
Haley McLean (Erin Connolly, Ryan Little)
BC 1, MC 0
Part of the reason the Eagles looked so good was the strength of the third line. The Little/Connolly/McLean unit played important minutes, and got BC on the board for the first goal.
It’s a greasy goal, but it came after a strong start to the game. Haley McLean forces a turnover right on the doorstep, and she chirps away at the puck. It winds up on its side and rolls its way across the goal line for the score.
This isn’t the last we’ve seen of the third line.
Boston College Goal #2: 4:44 of the 2nd period
Delaney Belinskas (Megan Keller)
BC 2, MC 0
BC looked good in the first period, but they looked unstoppable in the second. It was like seeing the old gang from last year back on the ice.
Megan Keller is probably the best defenseman in the country, and she likes to jump into the play on offense. This is brilliant from start to finish out of Keller — she skates right around the Merrimack defensemen, with Belinskas joining her on the rush.
Keller dishes a picture perfect pass right onto the tape of Belinaskas’ stick, and she does the rest to give BC its first insurance goal.
Boston College Goal #3: 14:24 of the 2nd period
Ryan Little (Haley McLean, Megan Keller)
BC 3, MC 0
Here’s the third line back on the ice doing work. This time, Ryan Little gets in on the action with the goal.
The third line is once again doing good work keeping Merrimack pinned in deep, and it again leads to a positive result. Keller sends a bouncing puck in on net, and McLean helps it along. Nobody can get good wood on it, though, and it bounces like a super ball all the way to the back door of the crease.
Ryan Little is there, and the puck settles nicely right as she backhands it into the open net for the 3-0 lead.
Boston College Goal #4: 3:46 of the 3rd period
Megan Keller (unassisted)
BC 4, MC 0 — FINAL
Megan Keller finished off the scoring, and we at BC Interruption got a great look at it in person from behind the net:
Megan Keller SNIPES home BC's 4th goal! Eagles up 4-0 in game 1 of the Hockey East quarterfinalsPosted by BC Interruption on Thursday, February 23, 2017
This is just too easy from Keller. She gathers the puck in at the blue line, and surprises just about everybody by skating the puck straight into the slot. Merrimack’s defenders, for their part, are caught completely off guard, and Keller takes all the space she’s given.
She has one of the league’s best shots, and from this angle, she isn’t going to miss very often. She rifles the puck into the corner glove side high, and Merrimack’s proverbial goose is cooked.
This was a good win for the Eagles. Merrimack isn’t good (they were 8th out of 9 teams in Hockey East, after all), but at 23rd in both the KRACH and the Pairwise, they aren’t quite the doormat that some of the other leagues have. Regardless, it was the thorough domination you would hope to see from BC against an opponent of this caliber, and it was encouraging to see Newkirk and Ross back on the ice and looking sharp.
Game two of the series is Friday at 2pm, where the Eagles will look to clinch their spot in the Hockey East semifinals. More importantly, look for the Eagles to keep up the strong play as they head into the last few weeks of the season.