Every class has that kid who messes up the curve. This semester, BC women's hockey was That Kid.
Let's take a look.
Top Line: A+
Everyone expected Alex Carpenter to make an impact upon her return to the team after taking a year off to train with Team USA for the Sochi Olympics. But no one expected her to center what has unquestionably been the best line in women's college hockey.
Carpenter (19-26--45 in 16 games) leads the nation in goals, and assists, and (obviously) points. And she's done it playing fewer games than her competition. But it's not just Carpenter. Second in all of those categories? Linemate Haley Skarupa (17-21--38 in 16 games). Leaving Skarupa off the Team USA roster for the Olympics is quickly looking like one of the worst decisions USA coach Katie Stone has made, particularly in light of a couple of the Crimson players who made the roster in her place.
The third piece of the top line, for the last 8 games, has been freshman Kenzie Kent. Coach Crowley seems to have found lightning in a bottle with this combination. Consider, since being put together:
Alex Carpenter: (10-16--26, 3.25 PPG)
Haley Skarupa: (12-11--23, 2.88 PPG)
Kenzie Kent: (2-11--13, 1.63 PPG)
All three of those PPG numbers would be good enough for top 5 in the country.
Searching for a negative? Alex Carpenter is still under 3.00 PPG over the full season. Slacker.
Secondary Scoring: A
There are 40 players in D1 women's hockey who have scored at least 1.00 PPG. A full fifth of them are Boston College Eagles.
To give you some idea of how ludicrous that is, last year BC had just one player hit the 1.00 PPG mark: Haley Skarupa, at 1.24. This season, 8 (eight!) Eagles have hit that number. The other two members of the Big 3 in women's hockey this year, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, claim just 4.
BC is getting scoring from everywhere, including the blue line. Two of those 8 players scoring over a point per game are defensemen, Emily Pfalzer and Lexi Bender. Pfalzer is 7th in the country in scoring—as a defenseman.
Searching for a negative? BC's 4th line lags behind the rest of the team in scoring and +/-. Shocker, I know. But the fact that BC's been able to roll 4 strong lines with regularity has been a huge plus on its own. Very few (zero?) other teams are able to pull that off.
It shouldn't be such a surprise that BC's defense is so good. There are 6 full-time defensemen on the team. Four of them are participating in Team USA's winter training camp. The other two? One is Kaliya Johnson, who led BC in +/- last season and was a member of the USA U18 team before BC, and the other is freshman Toni Ann Miano, who was on last year's USA U18 team. Both are stay-at-home type defensemen that have been critical pieces of a defensive corp that likes to play up and join the rush.
So none of this should be a shock. And yet, the numbers are staggering. BC has allowed 18 goals in 18 games, behind only Quinnipiac. In Hockey East play, they've allowed 6 in 10. 2nd place BU has allowed 22.
Searching for a negative? Yeah, I've got nothing on this one. As good as the forwards are, it's the defense and the defensive scheme that make this engine purr. Breaking the puck out of the defensive end, having the speed to pinch so aggressively when on offense...that's what has made this BC team so relentless.
By far, the biggest question mark going into the season has been in goal. BC has had to move on from losing redshirt senior Corinne Boyles to graduation. Boyles was a brick wall for the Eagles for years. In her senior campaign, she was 5th in the nation in save percentage (.942) and 6th in GAA (1.67).
The goaltenders for BC this season came into the year with a combined 2 periods of collegiate hockey played. It would be completely unreasonable to hope for one of them to match what Boyles did for the Eagles.
Then, along comes Katie Burt. The freshman has started every game for BC this season. And those numbers Boyles put up last year? Burt is blowing them away.
Katie Burt goes into the break 3rd in the nation in save percentage (.946) and 2nd in GAA (1.04). But BC is going to be without her for the first 3 games of the 2nd half as she joins the USA U18 team for the World Championships.
Keep in mind this means that she is under 18. We have her for 3 more years. Wheeeeeeee!
Searching for a negative? Burt is young, so she's had her share of rookie mistakes. In BC's tie against St. Lawrence, she couldn't quite hold the post on a scrum late in the third period, and the puck trickled past her. In BC's last game against Dartmouth, she was overaggressive and allowed the Big Green a shot, and a goal, on a gaping net. All this means is that as good as she's been, she can be even better.
Special Teams: B
Special teams have been fine. Penalty kill has been very good, killing at a rate of 91.4%, good for 3rd in the country. There is room for improvement on the power play, however. 8th in the country at 22.0%. It's not terrible, but for a team with such speed and skill—and a team that draws so many opportunities (5th in the country)—they should be converting at a much higher rate. Minnesota is blowing everyone away at 36.5%.
Improving the power play (much like the men's team, coincidentally) is probably the simplest way of improving BC's already ludicrous offense.
Searching for a negative? I love Dana Trivigno but she's leading the nation with 16 penalties taken. That's kind of her M.O. (she was 9th in the country last year) but that is so many penalties...Five of the 18 goals BC has allowed have been on the penalty kill. Gotta stay out of the box.
BC is the only undefeated team in the country at 17-0-1. They are unanimous #1 in both polls and are tops in the Pairwise. It is hard to imagine the second half going any better than the first, but there's room for improvement.
BC leads the nation in scoring by almost a goal and a half per game with 5.94, and they're 2nd in defense at 1.00. The Eagles have had a soft schedule, and that won't change much in the second half, but as the players and coaches have said repeatedly in interviews with the media, they practice 6 days a week against the best players in the country—themselves.
Searching for a negative? Union's writer somewhat famously identified "faceoffs" as the Dutchmen's only weakness before last year's Frozen Four. BC's in first place even in that, winning 61% of draws.
But BC does have a true weakness: They are tied for last in the country with zero (0) empty net goals, tied with Vermont (8-9-1), Colgate (3-13-0), Minnesota State (0-15-1), New Hampshire (4-13-1), and Union (4-11-2).
Those teams have 0 empty netters because they're bad. BC has 0 because every win has been a total blowout.
It's not too late to jump on the bandwagon.