There is one major difference between last year's BC women's hockey team and this year's.
Last season, the Eagles were not often tested in the regular season. When the time came to play for trophies against top competition, BC was just not prepared for the grind necessary to gut out close wins.
That hasn't been the case this season. Even though the Eagles are ahead of last season's pace both offensively and defensively, they've been in several games where they've had to fight to stay perfect. Friday afternoon's game against 6th ranked Northeastern was one of BC's toughest battles of the year, but the Eagles were able to come back twice against the Huskies to earn the 5-3 win and at least a share of the Hockey East regular season title.
Northeastern Goal #1 (PPG): 4:34 of the 1st period
Denisa Křížová (Kendall Coyne)
NU 1, BC 0
Northeastern got on the board first giving BC one of their first early deficits of the season. The Eagles have a good penalty kill at fourth in the country, but a disproportionate number of goals BC allows -- 9 of the 38 -- have come with the other team on the man advantage.
Northeastern scores in the first three seconds of their first power play chance of the game. Superstar Kendall Coyne is involved (get used to that) winning one of the Huskies' few faceoffs of the game, and Křížová just blasts it in for the goal.
Boston College Goal #1 (PPG): 11:38 of the 1st period
Haley Skarupa (Megan Keller, Makenna Newkirk)
BC 1, NU 1
BC's penalty kill is good, but their power play is great. The Eagles rock a 29.8% power play, good for 2nd in the country, and the massive year-over-year improvement on the power play is a big reason that the Eagles were able to pull out this win.
Megan Keller is spilled going into the slot for a juicy bouncing puck, but Haley Skarupa is right there as well. Rather than turn and fire, Skarupa rips off a sharp backhand that catches NU goaltender Brittany Bugalski by surprise.
BC dominated the last 15 minutes or so of the period, but the rest of the game was much more the even, star-studded battle you would have expected BC vs. NU to be.
Northeastern Goal #2: 8:04 of the 2nd period
Kendall Coyne (Hayley Scamurra, Lauren Kelly)
NU 2, BC 1
Not to disrespect the rest of the Huskies, but Northeastern is the Kendall Coyne show. Coyne is one of the biggest stars in all of women's hockey, a top liner on the US Olympic team and front runner for this year's Patty Kazmaier Award, and she can score in a lot of ways.
She's speedy, but she's also not afraid to battle. She's right in the thick of things on this goal, and in the end, it's her stick that gets to the puck and scores the goal to put Northeastern in front once again.
Boston College Goal #2: 14:33 of the 2nd period
Makenna Newkirk (Dana Trivigno)
BC 2, NU 2
Two backhands in the slot and two goals for BC.
Makenna Newkirk is BC's top freshman, and the top scoring freshman in all of women's hockey. Newkirk makes a quick little move to pull it in away from the defender, and has a great shot for the finish. That quick bar-down backhand is about as good as it gets.
Boston College Goal #3 (PPG): 16:31 of the 2nd period
Makenna Newkirk (Alex Carpenter, Kenzie Kent)
BC 3, NU 2
BC's on the power play for the second time in the game, and they get their second power play goal out of it to give them their first lead of the afternoon.
Northeastern loses track of BC's extra skater, Newkirk, who is all alone as BC overloads the far side. Carpenter is able to skate around the perimeter and pass it over to Newkirk for the shot.
Have I mentioned that Newkirk can shoot? That is a pro-level shot into a puck-sized hole over Bugalski's shoulder.
Northeastern Goal #3: 17:10 of the 2nd period
Kendall Coyne (Unassisted)
BC 3, NU 3
Northeastern has shooters too -- and one in particular has the ability to single-handedly take over any game she plays in. It's Kendall Coyne again, this time doing it all herself.
Coyne intercepts a breakout pass from the Eagles and skates to the top of the faceoff circle before firing in on Katie Burt. She goes top corner as well with a laser beam, and Burt has no chance.
Three Northeastern goals, three plays from Kendall Coyne. This is what we expected to see in BC's previous three games against the Huskies.
Boston College Goal #4 (PPG, GWG): 19:58 of the 2nd period
Kenzie Kent (Haley Skarupa, Alex Carpenter)
BC 4, NU 3
Three for three on the power play at this point in the game for the Eagles.
This goal comes with just two seconds left in the second period to put BC out in front going into the third. Northeastern gets a bit unlucky as the puck is blocked by #55 Tori Hickel and she can't find it. Even Bugalski looks uncertain as she's looking toward Newkirk in the corner.
Unfortunately for both of them, it's sitting right out in front. Kenzie Kent races in and, knowing that the clock is winding down, just fires on net. She gets surprisingly good wood on it for a bouncing puck, and it beats Bugalski to give BC the lead for good.
It turned out to be a big goal, because it allowed BC to galvanize defensively in the third period and the Eagles were able to keep the Huskies out of Burt's net the rest of the way. With less than a minute to go, Alex Carpenter would ice it.
Boston College Goal #5 (ENG): 19:30 of the 3rd period
Alex Carpenter (Haley Skarupa, Kaliya Johnson)
BC 5, NU 3 -- FINAL
I'm not sure what Alex Carpenter did to draw the ire of the Huskies, but after this goal, Northeastern sent out bottom liner Taytum Clairmont for the last few seconds. Clairmont promptly gave Carpenter a nasty hit into the boards, and Carpenter was slow to get up.
Clairmont was given a 5 minute major, and you would hope she would be given an extra game to sit and think about it given the game situation.
BC clinched the #1 seed in Hockey East with the win and can clinch the regular season title outright by picking up one more point on the Huskies. The Eagles can do it on Sunday afternoon in Burlington against the Catamounts.