Time for some hard truths.
On paper, Boston College Women’s Hockey has one of the most talented rosters in the country this season, as they do most seasons. No team has more returning Olympians than the Eagles do. BC has the returning Patty Kazmaier Award winner, who is just a sophomore. They have one of the nation’s most dynamic forwards, Caitrin Lonergan. They have one of the best pure, two-way hockey players in the game in Makenna Newkirk. They have senior leadership, they have youthful talent, and they have an extremely talented young goaltender, Maddy McArthur.
And yet, as has become far, far too common for a team of this caliber, Boston College continues to be unable to get it done in big games. Tuesday night, the Eagles lost 5-4 in an overtime thriller to Northeastern, the best team they will face all season.
There’s no beating around the bush here: BC choked this game away. It’s a shame we can’t enjoy the game for what it was, because it was one for the ages.
The Eagles started out well and jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Things looked good, until the incredibly talented freshman forwards of Northeastern took over the game.
Swiss phenom Alina Mueller went ham in the second period, scoring two in a row before dishing the primary assist on the go-ahead goal with 70 seconds to play in the frame. That sent the Eagles into the locker room shockingly down 3-2 after jumping out to the early lead, though they did manage to climb back.
Two power play goals from Mekenna Newkirk later, the Eagles roared back into the lead at 4-3. All that was left to do was to finish the game off strong... and that didn’t happen. Northeastern found a late goal with the extra attacker with 81 seconds remaining to tie the score and send all the momentum right back to the Huskies bench.
Miraculously, Northeastern nearly threw the game away in the waning seconds. The Huskies left a wide open Caitrin Lonergan all alone across the blue line, allowing one of the best scorers in the game a free chance at goaltender Aerin Frankel with only 10 seconds remaining. But Frankel was equal to the task, further adding to the Northeastern momentum, and it was the Huskies who dominated the overtime period — outshooting BC 4-0 — and found the winning goal to take the win and deal a serious blow to BC’s quest for a top four spot in the Pairwise.
On its face, losing a tight game to an extremely talented team isn’t something to go full doom-and-gloom over. But this loss is another in a long line of examples of a talented BC team unable to dig deep and find a win when they desperately need it.
The Eagles are 0-4 in big games this year. To start the year so unprepared to take the ice that they were dealt two losses against a Minnesota-Duluth team that has since gone into a free fall is unacceptable. To lose to Providence in a game where BC was down four of their best players could be forgivable, but it was another example of being unable find a way to win. And losing tonight against your league rival in a televised game in the biggest game in the year — and after holding a lead late in the third period! — further compounds the narrative that BC just cannot get it done.
At this point, nearly halfway through the regular season, it’s time to readjust expectations for this team. As it currently stands, BC is not contending for a national title as we hoped they would. They are just not good enough.
That may change should the team improve as a cohesive unit in the second half of the year, but as it stands right now, sorry folks — it isn’t happening.