Saturday afternoon’s Hockey East quarterfinal between Boston College and Vermont may have been the Eagles’ most complete effort of the season.
From special teams, to balanced scoring, to just pedal-to-the-floor effort, everything seemed to come together. The Eagles peppered Vermont goaltender Sydney Scobee with 48 shots on their way to a touchdown’s worth of goals and a 6-1 win, earning the Eagles a spot in next week’s Hockey East semifinals.
Boston College Goal #1: 8:04 of the 1st period
Erin Connolly (Ryan Little, Delaney Belinskas)
BC 1, UVM 0
There is so much to like about this game for BC that it’s tough to find a place to start. What was interesting about the game was that Vermont came out and really took it to the Eagles. Vermont did not play intimidated and did not try to “play to keep it close,” and really tried to get into a skating match with BC. It was admirable, and to their credit, they created a few chances, but you have to wonder if it was wise to give the Eagles exactly the game they like to play.
BC’s third line of Little-Connolly-Belinskas did a particularly good job of matching Vermont’s energy, and they were rewarded with the game’s opening goal. Delaney Belinskas starts the rush by forcing a turnover in the Vermont end and sending the play the other way before dishing off to Connolly. It turns into a 3 on 1 that Sydney Scobee saves with her shoulder, sending the puck behind the net. But the third line stays with the play and keeps sending the puck back on net, before finally the chaos in front sees the puck on Connolly’s stick again. Connolly finally gets her backhand past Scobee, and BC is up 1-0.
Vermont Goal #1: 8:04 of the 2nd period
Kristina Shanahan (Ali O’Leary, Daria O’Neill)
BC 1, UVM 1
It was a very entertaining first period, and Vermont was certainly still in the game — if they could continue to match BC’s effort.
And for the first part of the second period, they did. The Catamounts use a transition rush of their own to push BC in deep before Ali O’Leary centers the puck to Kristina Shanahan. The BC defender does disrupt Shanahan, but not quite enough — Shanahan is able to get a second effort on the play, and she makes it count with an impressive roof job as she’s going down to the ice.
Great individual effort out of the Vermont forward, and it’s a new game.
Boston College Goal #2 (PPG, GWG): 13:27 of the 2nd period
Toni Ann Miano (Grace Bizal, Caitrin Lonergan)
BC 2, UVM 1
Vermont had it tied for a few minutes, but a number of ill-advised penalties put the Eagles on the power play — a power play that would eventually blow the game wide open as the game went on.
Just a couple minutes before this goal, Toni Ann Miano had a similar play in which she skated the puck to the high slot on the power play and fired the puck in off the post. Miano addressed the play in the post game presser:
Toni Ann, your goal on the power play came from a shot from the high slot, and just before that you hit the post on a similar shot. Is there something that you see on those power plays where you try and get into that area and collapse in and shoot? What’s your approach on that?
Yeah, I think both times their PK kind of shrunk a little bit which gave us more time on the perimeter, it was just a great screen in front of the net by Beres. So I think after hitting the post, I thought maybe I’ll try the other side [laughs], so it was just a great screen in front of the net and I was able to kind of hold it an extra second and let it go.
You can really see exactly what she’s talking about with the Vermont penalty kill shrinking in when she gets the puck up top. It almost looked like they were intimidated by the shot Miano brings to the table, and as they collapsed in, Miano took advantage of the extra space being given to her before firing the puck in on Scobee.
She did not miss a second time, and the power play goal gave BC a lead they would not relinquish.
Boston College Goal #3: 14:46 of the 2nd period
Kenzie Kent (Makenna Newkirk, Toni Ann Miano)
BC 3, UVM 1
It was admirable of the Catamounts to try and skate with the Eagles... but as well as they did in the first half of the game, it just wasn’t going to be possible to keep up that effort over 60 minutes with a team as skilled and as deep as BC.
You can start to see how BC begins to take control on this play. Miano sends the puck in deep, and there are three Catamounts down below Newkirk when she dumps it in. But Newkirk wins the race to the puck and passes back to Kent from behind the net.
From there it’s a luck bounce off the body of a Vermont skater and into the net, but that’s the sort of play that gets created from continued effort and from your opponent just starting to run out of gas.
Boston College Goal #4 (PPG): 15:57 of the 2nd period
Makenna Newkirk (Daryl Watts)
BC 4, UVM 1
Another Vermont penalty and another quick BC goal took Vermont from tied to dead and buried in the span of about 2 and a half minutes.
Daryl Watts wins the draw and the puck just sort of ends up sitting there for a second before Newkirk skates up to it. Newkirk just turns and slaps the puck in on net, and it seems to completely catch Scobee off guard. It beats her over the glove, and the Eagles suddenly have a 3 goal lead heading into the 2nd intermission — an advantage that frankly, at that point, felt pretty insurmountable to the Catamounts.
Boston College Goal #5 (PPG): 9:00 of the 3rd period
Grace Bizal (Caitrin Lonergan, Toni Ann Miano)
BC 5, UVM 1
And Vermont definitely wasn’t able to mount anything resembling a comeback in the third period. The Eagles controlled play pretty much from the drop of the puck in the third, and just before the midway point in the frame, Taylor Flaherty was given a 5+Game for a pretty rough hitting from behind penalty on Delaney Belinskas.
Almost immediately on the 5 minute major, the Eagles scored to really put the game on ice. Once again, it’s a similar setup for BC — the defender, this time Grace Bizal, gets the puck up top with all kinds of space to work, so she takes what she’s given. She gets all the way in to the high slot before shooting a cracker of a wrist shot past Scobee stick side, making it 5-1 Eagles.
Boston College Goal #6 (PPG, TD): 13:38 of the 3rd period
Makenna Newkirk (Maegan Beres, Kenzie Kent)
BC 6, UVM 1 — FINAL
The Eagles book-ended the 5 minute major with a pair of goals, the second of which coming off the stick of Makenna Newkirk, Bobby Orr style, getting tripped up by the goaltender as she sends the puck in while going down to the ice.
Scobee tries to poke check the puck off the stick of Newkirk, and just can’t get there. Newkirk manages to hold the puck and slide it inside the far post for the touchdown, wrapping up the scoring and advancing BC to the semifinals.
It was a great team effort from the Eagles, with all three lines looking dangerous and five different scorers finding the back of the net. BC will have to wait until Sunday to find out their semifinals opponent, as they’ll face the lowest remaining seed after quarterfinals weekend, but if they play like they did on Saturday afternoon, they won’t care who they get next week.