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BC Women’s Hockey vs. Ohio State, NCAA Quarterfinal: Final Thoughts & Predictions

Embrace being the underdog

Rich Gagnon, BC Athletics

We interrupt this major 24 hours in BC Men’s Basketball history for some NCAA tournament hockey!

It’s been over two weeks now since Boston College Women’s Hockey has been on the ice, but we’re pretty lucky we’re even getting another game. Before the Eagles faced off against UConn in the Hockey East quarterfinals, the thought didn’t even cross my mind that that could have been the last game of the season. The regular season had just ended, BC was playing pretty well, and I don’t think many of us really considered that the season might have been over just like that.

But despite getting blown out by UConn all those days ago, things fell just right in the other conference tournaments to give the Eagles a spot in the national tournament. It’s pretty obvious now that every game would be the last game of the season... so you can bet BC will be playing like it.

WHO

No. 6 Boston College Eagles (14-5-0, 14-4-0 WHEA)
vs. No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-6-0, 11-5-0 WCHA)

WHAT

The NCAA Quarterfinals — Single Elimination

WHERE

Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, PA

WHEN

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
7:00pm EDT

HOW TO WATCH

The NCAA is streaming all of the quarterfinal games for free on their website. Here is a direct link to the BC game.

LAST TIME OUT

Boston College last played on February 28th and got roasted pretty badly in a 5-1 loss to UConn in the Hockey East quarterfinals. BC had won all 5 previous meetings against the Huskies earlier in the season, but they just didn’t have it in game number six. It was extremely “ ”.

Ohio State had a far more respectable end to their WCHA season, falling in overtime to Wisconsin in the championship game after launching Minnesota-Duluth into the sun in the semifinal. The Buckeyes have just been rock-solid all season and they finished the year strong.

These two teams have only ever faced off once before, in the 2018 NCAA quarterfinals where their roles were reversed. BC came into the game as a moderate favorite, but was upset 2-0 by the Buckeyes at Conte Forum on the strength of a strong opening two periods by Ohio State and elite goaltending from Kassidy Sauvé.

PROJECTIONS

As this is each team’s first interconference matchup this year, we don’t have the ability to use KRACH or GRaNT to give point spreads or odds. So in my tournament preview I just decided to wing it:

Salzano’s Line: Ohio State -250
Over/Under: 4.0

For entertainment purposes only, of course.

THIS WEEK’S STORYLINE

Embrace The Underdog Role. Not like you really need a compelling storyline — it’s the national tournament, after all — but this game has a throwback feel for the Eagles. Back In My Day™, the Eagles made the tournament most seasons, but were usually quarterfinals underdogs. Despite BC’s habit of underperforming as a favorite, they often seem to outplay their ranking when being the lower ranked team, especially in the postseason. There must be something to playing with that mindset for the Eagles. This year alone, Boston College knocked off #1 Northeastern, so you know they’ve got it in them to take an upset win.

More recent followers of the team may not recall, but BC’s run of excellence all started with the first NCAA tournament appearance in program history in 2007. That Boston College team pulled off the quarterfinal upset against — oh yeah, baby — the #3 ranked team in the country.

THE BIG QUESTION

Who’s got the goalie? Whether or not the Eagles are able to pull this off will come entirely down to whether goaltender Abbey Levy can outduel her Buckeye counterpart. No pressure, buddy. Ohio State is a weird team offensively, taking a ton of shots but not really scoring many goals. They’re 3rd in shot margin nationally, but just 11th in goal margin.

That’s the sort of style of play that, in the right circumstances, is conducive to a goaltender looking like a world-beater. Levy, who started the year in a starting rotation with Maddy McArthur and Kelly Pickreign but who has since seized the starting job with both hands, has already put up some of those kinds of performances in the second half of the season, and in her limited action has one of the best save percentages and goals against averages in the country. She definitely could do it.

GAME TIME MEAL OF THE WEEK

Tums Ultra Strength: Assorted Berries

When you’re faced with 60 minutes of agita, you need to have the old standby handy to get you through the evening. In this case, it’s the national tournament, so I recommend classing it up a bit and going with the assorted berries variety pack.

Sure, any old flavor will do the trick, but the assorted berries are a nice change-of-pace to give your evening that little something extra. Treat yourself; you’ve earned it.

GAME TIME SONG OF THE WEEK

Måneskin — Zitti e Buoni (Shut Up & Be Good)

Scusami, ma ci credo tanto
Sorry, but I believe so much
Che posso fare questo salto
That I can make this jump
Anche se la strada è in salita
Even though the road is uphill
Per questo ora mi sto allenando
This is why I’m training now

Your favorite women’s hockey writer is on a big Italian Music kick lately, and I discovered this song yesterday — just in time to use for this game’s Song of the Week. Most Italian pop songs I’ve come across have a big dance-on-the-beach vibe to them, but this song... errr, does not.

This song won Italy’s most prestigious music festival last week and will represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. It’s a real banger and has a hell of a riff. This is a serious pre-game pump-up jam. Enjoy.

PREDICTION

This is a trendy upset pick over on the USCHO forum, and I guess it could happen. A few things would need to go BC’s way for the Eagles to pull out the win. As I said earlier, Abbey Levy is the key to the whole thing happening, and she’s had games this year where if she plays like that again, BC is at least going into the third period with a puncher’s chance.

Ohio State is undoubtedly the much better team, but I can’t shake the feeling that BC is going to go into this game and put up an admirable battle. My brain says the Buckeyes probably win this one, but my heart says the Eagles at least take it to overtime. I’ll say it’s Ohio State 2-1 in OT... but BC might have some grit left in them yet.