The Boston College Women’s Hockey team came into the season with sky-high expectations and all kinds of confidence thanks to getting three Olympians back onto the roster, but the season opener against 9th ranked Minnesota-Duluth was an emphatic wake-up call that things won’t be coming easy just because they’re good on paper. Despite holding a lead midway through the game, the Eagles gave up three consecutive goals to end the game and fell to the Bulldogs 4-2. In addition, and certainly the biggest concern for BC, Caitrin Lonergan left with an injury midway through the contest did not return. More on that later.
If there’s one thing the Eagles will probably be most upset about from this game, it’s the fact that the game played out just like some of their worst games of last season. The BC offense seemed to get clogged up all over the ice, the offense couldn’t maintain possession (they were once again outshot, by a margin of 35-27), and the the blue line committed way, way too many defensive lapse — shocking, given the amount of talent back there.
Freshman goaltender Maddy McArthur looked a bit nervous early in the game, but made some great stops and looked more confident as the game went on. Despite giving up four goals, she actually played quite well, with the Duluth’s scores coming on, respectively, an odd-player rush, a second defensive turnover, a 5-on-3, and a deflection off a BC skater.
Duluth got the scoring started early with a goal 6:46 into the game, but Daryl Watts tied things up before the first period was out with a shorthanded breakaway goal that was straight out of last season.
The Eagles took their only lead early in the second period with a great neutral zone set up from Willow Corson to Megan Keller, culminating in a well-fed pass to Erin Connolly for the score. But it was all Bulldogs from there, with Duluth tying the game in the second and pulling away with a pair in the first half of the third period. They stymied the Eagles the rest of the way, with BC unable to even pull the goaltender to try and tie the game late.
Caitrin Longeran, BC’s and the NCAA’s #2 scorer in the nation last season, left the game midway through the game with an injury. Lonergan went down near the BC bench at the blue line and had to be helped off the ice to the locker room, without putting weight on her right leg. No update yet on her condition, but if she misses significant time, it will be a massive blow as Lonergan is a critical piece of the Eagles’ offense.
All in all, there is no doubt whatsoever that Duluth outplayed the Eagles and were just flat out better than BC in all phases of the game. With the loss, Boston College is on its first three game losing streak since the last game of 2011/first two games on 2012. Whether or not it was a result of BC playing through some pre-season rust (the Bulldogs did get a strong warm-up against the Minnesota Whitecaps last week while the Eagles were off), we’ll have to find out on Saturday. The puck drops on game two at 5pm EDT/4pm CDT.