The BC women's hockey team didn't really face any adversity during the last year's regular season until late, when most teams had perhaps gotten more battle-hardened and were able to snuff out the Eagles' potent attack.
Last night was a curious case for the Eagles. They dominated puck possession as they normally do, but Cornell's defense—which was expected to be the Big Red's team strength after losing much of its offense to graduation—clogged up the center of the ice and made it difficult for BC to convert.
A late-game scramble on the penalty kill down 1, 2, and even 3 skaters for nearly 5 minutes showed what this year's Eagles are made of as they held off Cornell and pulled away late despite being shorthanded to pick up an exciting 4-1 win on the road.
Boston College Goal #1: 6:25 of the 1st period
Makenna Newkirk (Unassisted)
BC 1, Cornell 0
BC came out with a jump in their step despite the long trip to upstate New York. Last season BC struggled (relatively speaking) on the road. BC's ties against St. Lawrence and Boston University and losses to BU and Harvard came away from Conte Forum. That's part of why Friday's win was so satisfying.
Just a few minutes in, Newkirk forces a turnover along the boards and knows what to do with it, turning on a dime and skating straight for the slot. Cornell's Sarah Knee's only chance to stop the play was disrupted by Kenzie Kent skating between her and Newkirk, allowing Newkirk enough space to really wind and fire.
The freshman found the back of the net and the Eagles were up 1-0.
The two teams were held scoreless in the 2nd period, despite the Eagles needing to kill a 5 on 3 midway through the period for a full 1:14 of game time. Even with the kill, BC still outshot Cornell 17-9 in the period and ended up blitzing Cornell 44-19 for the game.
That stat will be even more impressive when you see what happened at the end of the game.
Cornell Goal #1: 4:50 of the 3rd period
Hanna Bunton (Morgan Richardson)
BC 1, Cornell 1
Early in the third period, Cornell knotted the game at 1 apiece to set up BC's a rare, true "battle-hardening" opportunity in the young season.
The goal was a well executed 3 on 2. Both Cornell skaters without the puck drive into their respective defender pushing the play right onto Katie Burt's doorstep.
Bunton skates right to the slot, like Newkirk on the first goal, for one of the Big Red's only chances from a prime scoring opportunity, and Bunton gets off a great shot to tie the game.
It's hard to put any blame on BC's defense for the goal. Cornell executed beautifully.
Boston College Goal #2 (PPG, GWG): 9:17 of the 3rd period
Alex Carpenter (Haley Skarupa, Kali Flanagan)
BC 2, Cornell 1
BC rose to the challenge. A penalty on Cornell midway through the period handed the Eagles—and their much improved power play—a prime opportunity to retake the lead.
This goal was a great example of BC's change in power play philosophy this season. Last year the Eagles spent a ton of their time on the perimeter, concerning themselves with puck possession more than scoring opportunities. This year, there's been much more of a focus on taking advantage of the numbers and getting the puck to the net. BC's more creative and "loosey-goosey" approach has really paid dividends early on.
Flanagan kicks off the play up top with a feed inside to Skarupa. Cornell's #4 Sydnee Saracco is forced to try and cover two players—there's the numbers game—in both Skarupa and Kent. By the time Skarupa gets the puck past her, Saracco is in no-man's land and Skarupa is able to backhand the puck over to Carpenter who drifts over to the back door to finish the alley-oop to retake the lead.
Of note: This was Alex Carpenter's 100th career goal. She's just the second BC women's hockey player to do it (Erin Magee '99) and her two points on the night tied for the program record with Kelli Stack '11 at 209 career points.
Boston College Goal #3 (ENG, SHG): 18:26 of the 3rd period
Lexi Bender (Kali Flanagan, Dana Trivigno)
BC 3, Cornell 1
Okay, so, empty netter, awesome, but oh my there is so much that happened and is still happening at this point.
Here is a game summary of the last several minutes of the game, in which Cornell was on either a power play, a two man advantage, or a 6-on-3 with the goalie pulled for the entire rest of the game:
4:18 to go: Newkirk penalty
Cornell 5 on 4 for 0:37
3:41 to go: Bender penalty
Cornell 5 on 3 for 1:23
2:18 to go: Newkirk out of the box
Cornell 5 on 4 for 0:06
2:12 to go: Cornell pulls their goalie
Cornell 6 on 4 for 0:23
1:49 to go: Keller penalty
Cornell 6 on 3 for 0:08
1:41 to go: Bender out of the box
Cornell 6 on 4 for 0:07 seconds
1:34 to go: Bender scores, goalie back in
Cornell 5 on 4 for 0:19
1:15 to go: Cornell pulls their goalie
Cornell 6 on 4 for 0:11
1:04 to go: Johnson penalty
Cornell 6 on 3 for 0:46
0:18 to go: Carpenter scores, goalie back in
Cornell 5 on 3 for 18 seconds
End of Game
BC not only gave up no goals during this chaos, they actually scored two of their own, one on Bender coming out of the box and one with Carpenter winning a puck battle along the boards in the waning seconds.
Boston College Goal #4 (ENG, SHG): 19:42 of the 3rd period
Alex Carpenter (Unassisted)
BC 4, Cornell 1 -- FINAL
What a whirlwind finish for BC, and outside of the penalties (obviously), it was an effort they should definitely be proud of.
BC will get a shot at a road sweep this afternoon with a 3pm start up at Cornell. They'll look to dominate play like Friday night, but hopefully without the late-game heart attack.