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GOAL BY GOAL: BC Women’s Hockey Returns From Break With 7-3 Win Over Merrimack

ALL OF THE GOALS

John Quackenbos, BC Athletics

BC women’s hockey had about a month off for the holiday break, but based on Tuesday’s game against Merrimack, you’d never know it. Tuesday’s 7-3 win over the Warriors was pretty much a microcosm of the entire BC women’s hockey season: Strong special teams, strong offense, and questionable defense.

Fortunately, the first three are so good that the Big 12-style “defense optional” gameplan hasn’t bitten them too often!

Merrimack Goal #1: 1:20 of the 1st period
Mikyla Grant-Mentis (unassisted)

MC 1, BC 0

It was a pretty terrible start for BC. Just 80 seconds into the game, the Eagles’ old defensive gremlins reared their ugly heads and put Merrimack in the lead. Caroline Ross gets turned around on a Warrior rush by Grant-Mentis — who, granted, is pretty good — leading to a Merrimack breakaway.

Grant-Mentis slips the puck past Katie Burt, and it’s 1-0 Merrimack.

Boston College Goal #1: 7:58 of the 1st period
Kenzie Kent (Caitrin Lonergan, Delaney Belinskas)

BC 1, MC 1

Fortunately, the Eagles weren’t down very long, and indeed never really lost control of the game the rest of the way, despite giving up three goals.

The BC second line combined for a beauty to tie the game up at 1-1. Lonergan skates into the Merrimack end with a good individual effort, but loses control of the puck in the corner. Belinskas gets to the free puck but only has enough time to throw the puck back into the corner to keep possession.

From here it’s great line chemistry. Lonergan went right to the corner and was the only person in the vicinity when Belinskas threw the puck in there, giving her all kinds of options. She sends the puck across to Kent who is open thanks to all the puck movement, and Kent fires te puck in from one knee to tie the game.

Boston College Goal #2: 8:39 of the 1st period
Makenna Newkirk (Daryl Watts, Maegan Beres)

BC 2, MC 1

It only took BC 41 seconds to go from trailing to leading, and they wouldn’t give up that lead the rest of the afternoon.

Daryl Watts starts the play with smooth stickhandling through the neutral zone and into the Merrimack end. Her shot attempt is deflected, but Newkirk is trailing the play. Newkirk just slaps at the puck and it beats Léa-Kristine Demers to put the Eagles up 2-1.

Boston College Goal #3: 6:18 of the 2nd period
Daryl Watts (Makenna Newkirk)

BC 3, MC 1

It was all BC at the end of the 1st period, and it was all BC to start the 2nd.

BC got its first insurance goal off the draw thanks to Daryl Watts, who shoots the lights out from below the faceoff dot. It’s on a tough angle, and the net is pretty well covered by Demers, but she finds an opening and puts the plug into the socket.

Merrimack Goal #2 (5v3): 8:01 of the 2nd period
Katelyn Rae (Paige Voight, Paige Sorensen)

BC 3, MC 2

BC’s penalty kill was exceptionally good today, but that’s only half of the shorthanded equation. The Eagles took too many penalties, and when they were caught on a two player disadvantage, it bit them.

BC doesn’t have the bodies to cover who they need to cover, which is really just good execution from Merrimack on the 5 on 3. In the end, the Warriors send the puck through the crease where Rae is waiting to poke the puck inside the post to get Merrimack back within 1.

Boston College Goal #4 (SHG, GWG): 11:19 of the 2nd period
Makenna Newkirk (12) (Daryl Watts, Grace Bizal)

BC 4, MC 2

Merrimack’s brief 5 on 3 was good. Unfortunately, their 5 on 4 power play was pretty much nonexistent with the Eagles controlling play for big chunks of the Warrior advantage.

This should be a nothing play. Newkirk skates the puck into the Merrimack end against five Warriors, but no one does anything about Watts — one of the two best skaters in the entire country — coming in behind the play. Newkirk spins and dishes to Watts, who turns up the voltage and just goes right to the net. Her shot is saved, but Newkirk is still down there to clean up the mess on a wide open net.

Merrimack Goal #3: 12:12 of the 2nd period
Mikyla Grant-Mentis (Megan Fergusson, Andrea Olson)

BC 4, MC 3

But once again, Merrimack manages to pull back within one. Somehow the Warriors come in on a 3 on 1 — there’s just no reason this should happen — but the shot is sent wide.

Unfortunately Merrimack is still in control of the ensuring scrum, and the puck eventually finds its way back to the crease. Grant-Mentis is there to slip the puck home, and it’s 4-3 BC.

Boston College Goal #5: 14:08 of the 2nd period
Daryl Watts (Makenna Newkirk, Caroline Ross)

BC 5, MC 3

The goals just kept coming, and the Eagles once again gave themselves some insurance. It’s Watts again, but the goal was really a result of the Eagles just coming in waves.

There are Eagles all over this play, with so much going on that it’s hard to tell who’s who, and in the end a sprawling Demers can only watch as Watts sends the rebound past her for the 5-3 Eagle lead.

Boston College Goal #6 (PPG, TD): 3:12 of the 3rd period
Caitrin Lonergan (Daryl Watts, Kenzie Kent)

BC 6, MC 3

The game never really did feel close, even when Merrimack got it within 1, but the Eagles did pull away for good in the third period thanks to a pair of power play goals — their only two opportunities of the game.

BC moves the puck well on PPG #1, with Lonergan getting enough room to fire away from below the faceoff dot for the goal. Merrimack seems way too collapsed down low — they’re all within a couple feet of the goal line — so they didn’t really give BC much of a challenge.

Boston College Goal #7 (PPG, PAT): 15:44 of the 3rd period
Caitrin Lonregan (Kenzie Kent)

BC 7, MC 3 — FINAL

BC’s second PPG of the period was more of a Lonergan special. She’s scored more than a few of these this season — Lonergan loves to skate the puck laterally through the offensive zone, and with her agility it opens up a shooting lane for her more often than not.

But it also sets her up to lean a lot of weight onto her ferocious wrister with a clear target to shoot at. She fires the puck right through the uprights for the PAT, giving the Eagles the 7-3 lead that would hold up to be the final score.

It feels like we talk about this in every game recap, but it’s starting to look like we’re just going to have to accept that the Eagles defense is what it is — they’re down three of the best players in the world, there’s only so much they can do — and they’re going to go as far as their young star forwards can take them. But Watts, Lonergan, and Newkirk just might have the firepower to make the defense not matter.

BC’s second half gets back into full swing with a home-and-home against New Hampshire this weekend.