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GOAL BY GOAL: BC Women’s Hockey Kicks Off Hockey East Tournament With 4-1 Win Over UConn

One win closer to some hardware

John Quackenbos, BC Athletics

Trophy Season has arrived at the Heights! With the Eagles 0 for 2 on trophies thus far in the year (Beanpot and WHEA Regular Season), it’s time for BC to put together some strong efforts and come out of this year with some hardware.

It was a good start for the Eagles, when all was said and done. Boston College Women’s Hockey had a solid game to kick off postseason play Friday afternoon against the UConn Huskies, weathering some defensive miscues early before taking a relatively easy 4-1 win at home. BC is up 1-0 in the best-of-3 quarterfinals series.

BC’s first period was pretty solid offensively, but not great defensively. UConn probably had the better of the chances — even if the Eagles had more of them — thanks in part to some questionable play below the goal line that allowed UConn to get a couple great looks from right on goaltender Maddy McArthur’s doorstep. McArthur kept the Huskies off the board with some Tier I stops, and with the Eagles not able to bury any of their chances, the game went into the first intermission scoreless.

With no penalties called in the opening frame, the game had a pretty good flow going. But because Hockey East refs can’t just let a good thing happen, the penalties started coming from there. Fortunately, at least in the second period, it was to BC’s benefit.

Caitrin Lonergan was called for a bogus body checking penalty early in the frame, but the referees immediately returned the favor with a call on UConn just six seconds later. That set up a long 4 on 4 situation that really put the game in BC’s favor.

Boston College Goal #1 (4v4): 2:08 of the 2nd period
Delaney Belinskas (Makenna Newkirk, Cayla Barnes)

BC 1, UC 0

There has been some grousing about BC’s offensive game plan using the defenders — too much skating the puck through the neutral zone, not enough starting the breakout with a pass to the forwards, that sort of thing — so there are probably a few fans who are going to be happy with this goal.

Cayla Barnes starts with possession in the BC end and sends a quick pass to Makenna Newkirk along the boards. With the play moving north-south thanks to the quick breakout pass, the Eagles are able to cross the blue line with some speed, catching the Huskies on their heels and allowing Belinskas into the offensive zone on what ends up being a two on one.

Now, Barnes starting the play doesn’t mean BC’s defense isn’t going to be involved in the play. Belinskas’ partner on the two on one is Olympic Hero Megan Keller. With the whole world probably expecting the pass, Belinskas is able to just barely slip the puck through the five hole for the goal, giving BC the 1-0 lead and some momentum.

Boston College Goal #2 (4v4, GWG): 2:48 of the 2nd period
Kali Flanagan (Daryl Watts)

BC 2, UC 0

Just 40 seconds later, on the same 4 on 4, BC’s got some insurance.

This is a very different goal, but maybe the best solo effort of the game. Kali Flanagan does some serious work here on a play that really should have been harmless — so harmless, in fact, that BC is totally backing off the play to defend the UConn breakout and it’s just Watts and Flanagan in on the forecheck.

Flanagan wins two puck battles along the boards that she really has no business winning, with the puck eventually ending up on Watts’ stick. Watts one-touches the pass right back to Flanagan who’s now at the side of the net, and it all happens so fast that poor UConn goalie Morgan Fisher pretty much has no idea what’s going on. Flanagan has the puck on the post with Fisher looking the other way, and she just has to guide the puck inside the post for the goal and the 2-0 lead.

UConn Goal #1 (PPG, 5v3): 3:39 of the 3rd period
Morgan Wabick (Taylor Wabick)

BC 2, UC 1

It was a great period, but because just about nothing comes easy for this team, UConn got a goal back to make everyone think just maybe this game might end up being a royal PITA.

Of course, it’s thanks to penalties (Welcome to the 2018-2019 Boston College Women’s Hockey season, if you’re here jumping on the playoff bandwagon!) that even puts BC in this position. UConn’s got a lengthy 5 on 3 — over a minute — and while BC did put up a valiant effort with a couple early clears, UConn finally breaks through with a nice goal. It’s just the way you’d draw it up — the Huskies take advantage of the extra space by moving the points in on the faceoff circles, and the wrist shot gets a tremendous deflection out front to roof the puck past McArthur.

Maddy had an excellent game, and this puck would have beaten Dominik Hašek.

Boston College Goal #3 (PPG): 11:19 of the 3rd period
Megan Keller (Caitrin Lonergan, Kelly Browne)

BC 3, UC 1

The UConn goal put the pressure on BC, because their response would determine how the rest of the game would play out. Coach Crowley addressed the team reaction to UConn cutting the lead back to one in the post-game press conference.

I thought after that goal we had to make a decision, you know? We either step on the gas pedal a little bit and try to put a couple in, or we can settle back and be in a 2 to 1 game where we’re really trying to scrap in our defensive zone. And I thought especially that goal by Makenna [Newkirk] — Megan Keller’s goal too I thought was a really nice goal — those two goals were obviously huge for us and I thought we were able to take a deep breath after that.

This really says a lot about BC’s target mindset when a game tightens up. The team really wants to respond with more scoring — it’s just in their DNA at this point — rather than packing it in defensively and killing clock to get to the end. And thanks to a little help from the refs to put BC on the power play, they were able to get those goals to put the game on ice.

Goal number three to bring the lead back to two was really great puck movement on the power play. Megan Keller starts the give-and-go to Lonergan and makes a break for the net. The defender follows the puck, but Keller’s going in the other direction. Lonergan sends the pass right back to the tape of Keller right in the slot, and Keller one-times it home for the score that probably would have been enough to put the game away.

We got a pretty solid clip of the goal from behind the net at the game:

Awesome.

Boston College Goal #4: 11:42 of the 3rd period
Makenna Newkirk (Jillian Fey, Daryl Watts)

BC 4, UC 1 — FINAL

But BC wasn’t quite done, and they were able to find one more goal just 23 seconds later — great shifts after scoring for the Eagles in this game — to finish off the scoring.

Jillian Fey is at the point sending in the slap shot, and the shot takes a hard deflection off a UConn stick, killing the puck’s speed on its way through. The puck ends up right in front of Newkirk, who gathers the puck in from point blank range and shoots like she was expecting the puck to stop at her feet in the first place. Fisher really has no chance to keep Newkirk out of the net from this position, and that was all she wrote for game one of the Hockey East quarterfinal.

It was a pretty solid effort from BC. You’d like to see them get the shutout, but you’d also like to see them not allow a 1+ minute 5 on 3 to their opponent too. So, you take what you can get. The encouraging thing was that the defense did seem to improve a bit after the first period. The Eagles will look to lock up the best-of-3 series on Saturday afternoon at Conte Forum, and a win would send the Eagles to the semifinals next week in Providence. Puck drop on Saturday is 2pm.