As the top seed in the Women’s Hockey East tournament, you might expect Boston College to breeze through to the semifinals. That’s been the case in years past, when the #8 seed has been in the tournament basically just so the #1 seed didn’t get rusty in a weekend of byes.
But Vermont isn’t your typical #8 seed. Hockey East is the deepest conference in women’s hockey this season, and the Catamounts have given teams fits all season. Vermont has beaten Minnesota and Clarkson, but they haven’t quite figured out the Eagles just yet.
That continued on Friday afternoon in game one of the best of 3 WHEA quarterfinals. The Catamounts played well, but they couldn’t quite solve Katie Burt as the Eagles took a 3-1 win at home to open the playoffs.
Boston College Goal #1: 15:25 of the 1st period
Daryl Watts (Caitrin Lonergan, Serena Sommerfield)
BC 1, UVM 0
The Eagles had a pretty sluggish start, so who else was it that put a jolt into the Eagles but Daryl Watts.
As she takes the pass from Caitrin Lonergan at the faceoff dot, it doesn’t appear to be all that much of a scoring chance. One Vermont defender makes a halfhearted attempt to block, but it might have one more harm than good in most cases if it got deflected. In this case though, she’s probably wishing she put more heart into it, because Daryl Watts found the one puck-sized hole in Sydney Scobee’s butterfly and scored a goal through it, giving BC the 1-0 lead in the first.
Boston College Goal #2 (GWG): 13:01 of the 2nd period
Makenna Newkirk (Unassisted)
BC 2, UVM 0
The Eagles put together some scoring chances that they just couldn’t quite connect on, but it stayed a one goal game through the midway point of the game until Makenna Newkirk gave the Eagles some insurance all on her own.
Newkirk takes possession of a Vermont turnover and goes laterally across the top of the slot trying to find a shooting lane. The Catamounts defender goes down for a block, and Newkirk head fakes her right out of the play before pulling the puck back in and firing past Scobee for the goal.
Gotta feel for that defender... that’s a slick move.
Vermont Goal #1: 10:36 of the 3rd period
Alyssa Gorecki (Ève-Audrey Picard)
BC 2, UVM 1
Katie Burt looked like she might be headed for a shutout, but the Catamounts scored to pull back within one halfway through the third period to make a game of it.
It’s off the draw, which the Catamounts win, but BC pounces on the shooter who is forced to send a weak backhand in toward Burt.
What happens next is pretty unfortunate for the Eagles — Toni Ann Miano, BC’s defensive Patty Kazmaier Award nominee, gloves the puck down, but the Vermont forechecker slaps the puck right off her stick. The puck winds up right on the doorstep, and Alyssa Gorecki turns and roofs a rocket right over the shoulder of Burt.
Boston College Goal #3 (PPG): 16:11 of the 3rd period
Caitrin Lonergan (Makenna Newkirk, Kenzie Kent)
BC 3, UVM 1 — FINAL
But other than that one miscue, the BC defense didn’t really do too badly. The Catamounts had 35 shots, but not many of them were particularly threatening. So when the Eagles scored late in the third period to put themselves back up by two, it ended the small glimmer of hope that Vermont had.
This is a great, great play from Caitrin Lonergan and one that’ll probably go underappreciated goal in a game with a few nice ones. Lonergan fights hard for this one, putting good strong swipes at the puck — no soft waving at it here — before her last effort finally gets the puck through Scobee to put BC up 3-1.
The Catamounts pulled their goaltender with about two minutes left, but were forced to put Scobee back in on a defensive zone draw a few seconds later. From there, the Eagles kept Vermont pinned for much of the last two minutes, sealing the win and giving them the 1-0 series lead in the best of 3.
Game two is Saturday afternoon at 2pm, and a win would send the Eagles to the Hockey East semifinals.