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GOAL BY GOAL: Strong Overall Effort Lifts BC Women’s Hockey To 4-2 Win Over Providence

BC will win plenty of games if they can match Friday’s effort the rest of the season

John Quackenbos, BC Athletics

It’s been a little while since Boston College Women’s Hockey has managed to put together a really solid, 60 minute effort against a solid team. BC’s sweep against Vermont was against an overmatched team, and their win over #3 Northeastern two weekends ago was more of a defensive heart attack, but Friday night’s win over Providence was definitely one they can build on.

BC shot out to a hot start, and other than a defensive miscue early in the first, the Eagles took over the rest of the way and didn’t really let the Friars back into it on their way to a 4-2 win.

Boston College Goal #1: 1:22 of the 1st period
Delaney Belinskas (Megan Keller, Maegan Beres)

BC 1, PC 0

Providence College showed up to the rink late due to a minor accident on their way to Chestnut Hill, causing a delay of about 25 minutes to the start. For a little while, it looked like the Friars were still on the bus after the drop of the puck. BC took the first five shots of the game and were really buzzing around the PC defensive end, and it only took a minute and change to open the scoring.

Patty Kazmaier candidate Megan Keller pretty much creates the whole play on her own, dumping the puck into the offensive zone, and after a tip in from Maegan Beres, it’s Keller dive-bombing the goal line and winning the race to the puck.

Interestingly, PC’s defensive structure is actually pretty strong… to start. On the dump in, four Friars are in the defensive zone, with one going to race for the puck and the other three looking like they’re going to set up shop to defend out front. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens at all, and all four of the Friars get caught puck watching. By the time Keller sends her backhand off the boards into the slot, the two Friars who are supposed to camped out in front of their goaltender are actually straddling the goal line, so it’s no wonder it slides past both of them right into the best scoring area on the ice.

Delaney Belinskas, to her credit, flies in to occupy the open space, and she’s got the kind of shot shooters dream of. She fires it home, and it’s 1-0 BC.

Providence College Goal #1: 5:42 of the 1st period
Meaghan Rickard (Maureen Murphy, Sara Hjalmarsson

BC 1, PC 1

Of course, as BC has found out lately, the hottest start in the world can be undone by one defensive hiccup. Providence’s first goal comes on their first shot of the game, and it’s mighty similar to how the Eagles scored theirs.

For the Eagles though, it’s less a case of puck watching and more a case of almost of playing too timid. BC’s not terribly positioned – it’s not like they have a trio below the goal line like they often do, but they’re so spread out that there’s a bit of a vacuum in the center of the ice. No one notices Rickard streaking in at full gallop from the blue line into that space, and with Murphy well ahead of her pursuer, she has the ability to feed a well timed and well placed pass right where it needs to be. Rickard slams it home Belinskas-style, and the game was tied back up.

Boston College Goal #2: 8:15 of the 2nd period
Delaney Belinskas (Maegan Beres, Megan Keller)

BC 2, PC 1

The end of the first period didn’t quite go as smoothly as it started, thanks to a truly poor BC power play and a Providence power play that spent its full two minutes on the attack. But with an intermission to get things back under control, BC really took over from there.

There’s a whole lot of problems on this play that allow BC to retake the lead for good, and none of it is good for the Friars. First, a collision in the BC defensive zone throws off some of Providence’s backchecking momentum, and a nice bounce off the boards sends the Eagles off to the races. But as much of a problem as the collision was, the Providence players dogging it off the ice for the end of their shift certainly didn’t do them any favors.

The bench reinforcements may or may not have gotten back to help defend the break if their teammates got off quicker, but they didn’t have a chance they way things turned out. That put the Eagles cleanly away on the odd-skater rush, and from there BC just executed. Maegan Beres, one of BC’s most underappreciated two-way players, is leading the two on one down the far side of the ice, and her dish to Belinskas over the stick of the defender is really as good as it gets. Belinskas – absolutely surging with a 6-2—8 line in her last 4 games – is where she needs to be to smack home the volley, and BC’s retaken the lead on a really pretty goal.

Boston College Goal #3 (GWG): 12:19 of the 2nd period
Megan Keller (Makenna Newkirk, Olivia Finocchiaro)

BC 3, PC 1

The Eagles are really in control now. There’s effort all over the place out of BC, and the Friars back on their heels just trying to keep the lid on things.

Makenna Newkirk in particular fights hard along the boards to start things off and somehow is able to win the battle and send the puck in deep while getting spilled to the ice. Watts gets there first and skates hard to the perimeter before feeding a strong pass in to Finocchiaro closing in, who fires the slapshot.

It’s blocked, but again an Eagle is there first, this time Newkirk back in on the play after surveying the scene from her initial dump in from the boards. She weaves behind the net before finding Megan Keller, who had skated in to occupy the very small amount of available space in front of the net. Her snapshot finds the net for the goal, and BC’s got some insurance.

This goal should be queued up before every practice for the rest of the season. BC’s holding possession, pouncing on an opponent back on their heels, winning battles, constantly moving, making confident and aggressive passes, and just generally coming at them in waves. Exceptional effort from this line to create this opportunity.

Boston College Goal #4: 4:18 of the 3rd period
Caitrin Lonergan (Serena Sommerfield, Ryan Little)

BC 4, PC 1

Another puck battle along the boards that BC wins and ends up resulting in a scoring opportunity.

Ryan Little and Kelly Browne are getting their noses dirty along the perimeter, and it’s Little who’s able to get a stick on it while down on both knees. Sommerfield’s right where she needs to be, covering her point ready for the outlet pass, and she sends the puck back into the mixer to cause a little chaos.

A little chaos is just what happens, as the Providence defender gets a hand on the puck on its way in, slowing it down and causing the goaltender to just steer the puck aside, rather than glove it or send it out of harm’s way. Lonergan’s crashing the net as Sommerfield’s shot comes in, and that puts her in position to send the rebound right back where it came from to put the game well out of reach for the Friars.

Providence College Goal #5 (PPG): 19:40 of the 3rd period
Caroline Peterson (Ariane Julien, Ciara Barone)

BC 4, PC 2 – FINAL

It wouldn’t be a 2019 BC Women’s Hockey game without special teams making the game closer than it should be, so it’s to be expected that the Friars would find a later power play goal in garbage time to take some of the shine off a strong BC win.

There’s really not much to this goal – just a shot from up high through a ton of traffic that Maddy McArthur gets the initial save on through the screen, but it’s Providence who gets the clean stick on it in the scrum out front to score quickly on the late BC penalty.

It’s not so much that BC’s penalty kill has been awful (it’s not really been great, but it’s not been a complete mess either). It’s that BC’s power play has been so inept that even if their opponent goes 1 for 5 on the advantage – as PC did on Friday – then the Eagles are handicapping themselves by a goal in every game they play. The Eagles haven’t scored a power play goal in ages, currently riding on a brutal 0 for 21 streak (and 2 for their last 39) that has dropped them from being the 2nd best unit in the country to being one that feels lucky if they can get a couple shots on target. Surely, if there is a just and loving God, the Eagles will figure out the special teams problems and neutralize one of their real lingering weaknesses from the second half of the season.

The Eagles and Friars will head back to the ice on Saturday afternoon at Schneider Arena, with BC looking to complete what could be a huge weekend sweep. Puck drop is at 3pm in Providence.