The puck dropped on the 2017-2018 NCAA Women’s Hockey season this past Friday as the Eagles took a strong 6-0 win over Ontario’s Laurentian University in an exhibition matchup. After the game, we caught up with Boston College head coach Katie Crowley to look ahead to the new season, talk about the exceptional incoming freshman class, and ask a couple less hard-hitting questions.
BC Interruption: We’ll start out with a question that Joe Gravellese posed in our BC Interruption chat that was too good not to ask — would you rather fight a hundred Cayla Barnes-sized Megan Kellers, or one Megan Keller-sized Cayla Barnes?
Head Coach Katie Crowley: Neither! That’s pretty good...
BCI: Since Laura took over BC Interruption we’d usually start it out with some sort of Taylor Swift question, but we figured we’d change it up a bit.
HCKC: I think Barnes is going to be pretty good for us this year, so hopefully she’s going to take over those minutes that we lost with Megan Keller being at the Olympics. Megan Keller-sized minutes!
BCI: The big news over the last couple weeks was the new locker rooms, and they’re incredible. I know the fundraising was spearheaded by Jerry York. What does it mean to you to see BC investing so much in the program, especially in light of North Dakota cutting its program this summer?
HCKC: Oh, it’s unbelievable. You can imagine what a new locker room might entail, but to us this was an unbelievable project. It was kind of Jerry’s idea at the beginning, and he worked hard to find a lot of donors, and then it was carried on by Matt Conway and John Hegarty. I worked a lot with Matt and John on the project.
These players are very fortunate to be able to step through those doors. It’s awesome that BC supports us in that way. Obviously the North Dakota thing is on everybody’s minds, so it was really nice for us as a program to get something like this.
BCI: What’s your favorite feature of the new locker rooms?
It’s probably the coaches room, that we actually have a place to go sit down and talk now and shut the door and not have any of the kids in there. I think that’s a good thing for us as coaches, but the players have a lounge area where they can hang out now and watch video and we’ve never had that before. That’s a good spot too.
But, I mean, the whole thing, I can’t pick one thing. The whole thing’s really amazing.
BCI: One of the positive things about Brad Bates’ tenure was his commitment to the non-revenue sports, and it seemed like he gave a lot of support to the hockey programs especially. Have you had a chance to meet with new AD Martin Jarmond, and if so, what impression do you have of him personally and how he views the hockey programs?
HCKC: I haven’t had a lengthy sit down with him, no, just because he’s been on the road so much. I’m sure you notice, just looking at his social media posts, he’s been on the road constantly since he’s gotten here. So I haven’t had a chance to sit down with him one on one, but he’s very energetic, and he’s been very positive about our programs.
Brad was one of the reasons we have these locker rooms, and he was great for BC hockey. But Martin has been very positive in the short time since he’s been here. I think he’s going to be great for us.
BCI: What has your experience on the NCAA selection committee been like and what do the responsibilities entail? Getting information out of there has been like getting information from the Vatican, but anything you are able to share would be interesting.
HCKC: Yes, everything’s very confidential! But it’s been a great experience. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, being on a committee like this, but it’s been very interesting. We do have conversations throughout the year discussing the progress of each team, and then selection at the end of the year, but I can’t get into too much detail beyond that!
BCI: That’s interesting, so you do have regular meetings to sort of check in on the rankings of the teams throughout the year, rather than just one go of it at selection time?
HCKC: That’s right, yes.
BCI: We've played Minnesota-Duluth for a few years in a row now, so it's nice to see that we've got a regular — and good! — WCHA opponent. Is this a long-term scheduling arrangement or might there be a different WCHA team on the schedule in the next few years?
HCKC: Well, it’s going to be more difficult in the future just because we’re going to have so few out of conference games with Holy Cross joining Hockey East next year, plus having to take two games for the Beanpot. But playing Duluth has been great for us.
Usually with these scheduling arrangements, it’s a home-and-home type deal, with either two home games one year and two away games the next year, or if you travel together with an eastern team for one game each and then they return to our place the next year for the same thing — but that sort of arrangement gets a little more difficult when you have so many groups using the same facility like at Conte.
This year I think is the first game of another one of those two year sets, so I believe we’re going out to Duluth next year for the second half of that deal. But yes, we try to schedule teams each year from all the conferences.
BCI: Northeastern and Boston University are the two other top programs in the league, but which of the other programs do you think gives BC the biggest challenge?
HCKC: I think our league is going to be really good this year. I think Providence is going to be good, UNH — I mean, look at New Hampshire, they’ve had a bunch of good young recruits who have had some injuries over the last couple years and now they’re going to be coming into their junior years, and they have great coaching.
So really, top to bottom, I think our league is going to push us this year.
BCI: It's easy to ask about what you think BC does well, but which facet of our game would you describe as the part we most need to work on?
HCKC: We need to shoot more. We make a lot of really nice tic-tac-toe plays, but then the puck doesn’t get into the back of the net. We kind of joke around about it a lot, because we’ll see them make those plays and it’s hard to tell them to change up something like that. But unless the puck is going into the back of the net, it doesn’t matter.
BCI: One thing I think about, and I think about this with how Jerry gets his team ready too, is in the summer, do you start thinking about lines or do you really not do that until you start seeing them in practice?
HCKC: Usually I start thinking about them early. This year I didn’t, I tried to hold off from overthinking what the lines should be or where they’re going to be. This year I kind of wanted to see them in practice a little bit. We didn’t set out lines until Wednesday [two days before the exhibition]; that’s when we told them who they would be playing with.
It’s a work in progress, trying to figure out what’s going to be the best combinations. We switched them after the first period of the exhibition too and saw some good things. So it’s just feeling out where the freshmen are going to be, where the other players fit in when they come back from the summer, and how does that play in. I think we saw some good things in the exhibition; we were able to get a good evaluation of what we think might work. But I also feel like that’s always changing.
BCI: A little word association — give a one or two word description to each of the following. And you’ll notice there’s a bit of a theme:
HCKC: One or two words about Cayla Barnes... [pause]....
Is this supposed to be quick?!
BCI: One or two words, that’s all you’ve got!
HCKC: Alright... Talented.
BCI: Maegan Beres...
BCI: Willow Corson...
HCKC: Hockey Sense.
BCI: And Daryl Watts...
HCKC: ...[long pause]...
BCI: We saw the exhibition game... hahaha
HCKC: She’s... very good. I would say the same thing for her and Barnsey.
BCI: What roles do you expect these freshmen to play this year?
HCKC: All four of them are going to see action. The three forwards are a little bit unique, a little bit different. Daryl has that high talent level, that elite hockey playing sense, and I think she kind of puts it all together there.
I think Maegan really started to play better when we moved her to center. And I think that’s her more natural position, and I think she’ll really show better there, she’ll be better there for us. We’ll see an even more talented player there. She’s one of those gritty kids who’s going to never back down.
And then Willow, she’s unique too, I was saying earlier, she has such good hockey sense. And I think as she continues to get stronger and get used to the college game I think she’s going to be really good.
And Barnsey, like I already said, she’s going to log a lot of minutes for us. She’s going to really be a great player. And I think as she gets more comfortable too, she’s going to be really good.
BCI: Imagine you’re given ten seconds — only ten seconds — with the top high school girl’s hockey player in the country. What do you say to her to try and persuade her that BC is where she should play college hockey?
HCKC: I would say “We have the best of all three things you should be looking at. We have the best academics here, combined with the best athletics, and we’re in a city that is... the best.”
BCI: That’s good, I think you kept it under ten seconds!
Last question for you — we’ve seen a lot of former BC women’s hockey players entering the coaching world, especially in the last several years. What do you think are the most important qualities in a coach?
HCKC: That’s interesting... I look at those former players that have stepped into that role, and they know the game, they work hard, there’s a level of patience that you have to have, a level of confidence you have to have. You have to be able to relate to your players. I think a lot of those kids have that. I’m really happy for Taylor Wasylk, Danielle Doherty, Lee-J Mirasolo, all those players still involves in coaching, Colleen Harris, Maggie Taverna, all of them have the ability to combine all of that and be successful at coaching.
Thanks once again to Coach Crowley for taking the time to chat with us to preview the upcoming season. You can follow Coach Crowley and the BC Women's Hockey team on Twitter to keep up with the program, and of course check in with BC Interruption for full coverage throughout the season.
The puck drops on the 2017-2018 regular season schedule at Conte Forum with a pair of huge games against Minnesota-Duluth of the WCHA on October 5th and 6th. All home games will be streamed on ESPN3 this season, so make sure you follow the team in their quest for their first NCAA title!