Saturday afternoon’s game against BU wasn’t exactly Boston College’s sharpest game of the season. There was quite a bit of sloppy play, and while the Eagles definitely had their chances, the game was much more even than the #6 team in the country would have liked against an unranked team.
Still, the Eagles did what they had to do. After two scoreless periods, two quick strikes from the BC forwards were more than the Terriers could handle, and the Eagles claimed the 2-0 victory at Walter Brown Arena.
Boston University looked terrible in the first period of game one of the home-and-home on Friday, but as the weekend went on, it became pretty clear that the Terriers are much better than their record. BU’s season has been very stop-and-go, which has meant that the Terriers would often hit the ice without having played in weeks while their opponent was already starting to gel. Combine that with BU’s best player, Jesse Compher, missing several games, and you can start to understand why the Terriers, picked to finish 2nd in Hockey East in the preseason poll, are languishing in the bottom half of the standings despite all their talent.
But BU has finally put together a few straight weeks of games, so that talent is definitely starting to find a rhythm — and they gave the Eagles quite a fight. The first two periods on Saturday were largely even with Abbey Levy and Corinne Schroeder trading big stops over the opening 40 minutes, but the game changed quickly with a couple rapid-fire goals from Boston College.
Boston College Goal #1 (GWG): 7:21 of the 3rd period
Jillian Fey (Caroline DiFiore)
BC 1, BU 0
Jillian Fey scored to put BC up 1-0 in the 3rd period against BU pic.twitter.com/SRbIMQOXsE— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) February 21, 2021
On BC’s first goal, the Terriers left a single Eagle forward unguarded for a split second at the top of the crease. That split second was just enough time for DiFiore to slip the puck through to Fey and for Fey to deftly steer the puck around Schroeder. The replay in the video is particularly nice, as you get a great look at Fey topping the puck and sliding it around the goaltender.
Boston College Goal #2: 7:39 of the 3rd period
Hannah Bilka (Kelly Browne)
BC 2, BU 0 — FINAL
Hannah Bilka put the game out of reach with quite a toe drag to make it 2-0 Eagles pic.twitter.com/LB51QC2tfm— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) February 21, 2021
One goal definitely felt like an invitation for the Terriers to wake up, but BC didn’t give them the opportunity. Just 18 seconds later, the Eagles doubled their lead on a great goal from Kelly Browne and Hannah Bilka.
Browne and Bilka came speeding across the blue line after a turnover in the neutral zone, and if you’re going to have two players skating in on a two-on-one, as a BC fan, these are the two you’ll want. Browne’s dish over to Bilka was good, but Bilka’s quick toe drag instead of one-timing the shot was a real thing of beauty. She sent a BU defender to her knees in the wrong direction and wristed the shot past Schroeder to make it 2-0.
And the Terriers didn’t really have an answer from there. BC did take a couple ill-advised penalties with about 8 minutes or so to play that gave BU a 5 on 3, but it was a clean kill for the Eagles, and the Terriers couldn’t find the comeback.
That wraps up the regular season, and BC’s path to the Hockey East title worked out about as well as you could reasonably ask for, all things considered:
For a while there, it looked like BC beating BU might have knocked the Terriers into a position to face off with the Eagles in the Hockey East quarterfinals. If you assume, based on what we said earlier about the Terriers finally starting to get some games behind them and having their best player back, then you definitely would like to avoid playing them in the first round of the tournament. Fortunately, the Terriers held on to the 6th spot in HEPI by the skin of their teeth, and it looks like BC will be getting a 6th game against UConn (or perhaps Merrimack, if there’s a play-in for the spot) in their quarterfinal.
Of course, there’s still some uncertainty in how this will all shake out, because there’s no guarantee every team will be available. Only six of the ten teams in the league played this weekend, so it would certainly not surprise anyone to see a team or two have to pull out of the tournament. Fortunately, though, barring something truly loony like six teams withdrawing, the Eagles should avoid the rematch with BU in the first round. Best to avoid those rivalry games early on in single elimination where anything can happen.
We’ll have to wait and see what the league draws up and who’s available to play this weekend, but the Eagles can rest comfortably knowing they’re in a good spot at #2 with home ice clinched through the semifinals.