Boston College Women’s Hockey blew the doors off Boston University in the Hockey East semifinals, but it looked like they may not have had much left in the tank for the championship game on Sunday. A dreadful first period put the Eagles in a hole, but despite making two separate one-goal comebacks, it was the Huskies who found the winner in overtime, taking the game and the Hockey East championship by a score of 3-2 (OT).
If the Eagles were a little out of gas to start the game, it would certainly explain how things began. BC was sluggish, and that sluggishness translated into not being able to skate into open space to create passing lanes to advance up the ice. Northeastern didn’t exactly light up the shot chart either, but BC created far fewer opportunities than the Huskies did.
In addition, after doing a pretty good job limiting the penalties in the semifinal, that old BC vice reared its head on Sunday. The Eagles took a penalty just 22 seconds into the game, and another later in the period, and it was the second penalty that put BC in a hole. Northeastern scored right as the penalty clock expired, and it was kind of unlucky as the Husky crossing into the offensive zone lost the handle on the puck as she get down low. The puck bounced around the slot for a second before Andrea Renner got to it and shot it past McArthur to make it 1-0.
BC would have been lucky to make it out of the first period tied, but fortunately, they really turned the jets on in the second period. The Eagles got a power play of their own early in the frame and managed to get a two on one with Caitrin Lonergan and Daryl Watts streaking down the ice. Watts waited until the last possible moment to dish across to Lonergan, and Lonergan finished for the score to make it 1-1.
The biggest problem for BC in the second period was really that they didn’t bury any of their other opportunities. Several absolute top tier chances went by the wayside, including another Watts/Lonergan two on one and a separete clean three on one, both of which were stopped by Frankel, along with other chances while the Eagles were coming at them in waves.
The end of the second period was a bit more disjointed due to a couple hold-your-breath moments when Caitrin Lonergan and Makenna Newkirk both went down and missed the rest of the second period with injuries, but they would both return in the third. But both teams were playing tentative until BC once again shot themselves in the foot with penalties. Northeastern once again scored as the Eagle came out of the box with 5 minutes left in the game, and with BC creating far fewer opportunities than they had in the second, it looked like things might wind down pretty uneventfully.
Things did not wind down uneventfully.
The final seconds of the game were a whirlwind. First, with about 50 seconds left to play, the Huskies scored an empty net goal to make it 3-1 and presumably put the game on ice, but the goal was nullified by an offsides call, giving BC new life. And it only got crazier from there.
With about 10 seconds left, Northeastern iced the puck while BC had the goaltender pulled. Megan Keller booked it down the ice to get to the faceoff dot and get the whistle, and the clock stopped at 7.2 seconds. The referees reviewed the clock and determined that the time should be reset to 7.8 seconds (we know this as we were right behind the scorer’s table in the arena, and it was confirmed in the post-game press conference). The timekeeper then set the time to 7.0 seconds, which was obviously not right. The BC bench started yelling for them to fix the clock, which they did... to 7.4 seconds, which was still not right. At this point, there referees are going to the circle to drop the puck for the faceoff, and the Eagles bench was absolutely apoplectic, but the puck was dropped anyway.
On the ice for BC were the three Olympic defenders, plus Daryl Watts and Caitrin Lonergan, plus the center, Kelly Browne. During the icing review, Coach Crowley swapped out Makenna Newkirk for Browne to take the faceoff, which would have been a coaching decision that would have lived on in history had the Eagles won the game, because Browne won the puck directly back to Kali Flanagan who one timed the faceoff win directly over the left shoulder of Aerin Frankel to send the BC players, bench, and fans into complete delirium.
It all happened so quickly that, frankly, no one in the arena was even thinking about the fact that the puck was being dropped when it happened except for the six BC players actually on the ice. So when the puck went in, there was a feeling of complete shock and disbelief that I don’t recall ever quite feeling before. Everyone was truly agog that the game had just been tied up.
But that wasn’t even everything! After the goal was scored, the play went under review, and for a while no one knew what was going on. However, according to the TV broadcast after the fact (and confirmed with a source), the review was to see if BC’s goaltender was on the ice when the goal was scored, which was silly because of course she wasn’t. I suspect someone may have seen her on the ice in the celebration line and thought she might have been on when the puck was dropped.
But the goal stood, sending the game into overtime, and giving BC a chance at a trophy. But unfortunately, it was not to be. BC started to look like they didn’t quite have the legs after an intense and emotional 24 hours. Eventually, a bad bounce over the stick of a BC defender late in the overtime period put Northeastern’s Kasidy Anderson in on a semi-breakaway — the only one a suddenly stellar BC defense allowed the entire weekend — and she scored on the backhand to win the game and the title for the Huskies.
It was a complete heartbreaker for BC after showing so much resolve in getting the game tied back up twice in the first place. It was particularly disheartening because the game was scored on a bad bounce and a defensive turnover after the Eagles had just put in two plus games of a truly impressive lock-down effort.
Fortunately, BC’s win over Boston University on Saturday locked the Eagles into the NCAA tournament before the Hockey East final even started, and BC’s loss to the Huskies didn’t affect their seeding. #5 BC will travel to #4 Clarkson on Saturday for the quarterfinals, with the winner advancing to Hamden, CT for the 2019 Women’s Frozen Four. Stick with us this week as we have full coverage on the upcoming national tournament!