Last year’s Boston College women’s hockey team went scorched earth on everybody, making their presence known with a perfect regular season, only losing in the NCAA championship game to the Gophers.
This year, the Eagles had to make an adjustment to losing a handful of national team players to graduation. It wasn’t exactly a “slow” start to the year, but it wasn’t the mind-blowing pace of the last two seasons.
Quietly, however, the Eagles have become one of the hottest teams in the country. That can at least partially be attributed to the soft schedule the last few weeks, but given how every other national contender outside the state of Wisconsin has had its share of trip-ups lately, there’s something to be said for taking care of business.
BC continued that run on Wednesday night with a solid 4-1 win against Merrimack, running its unbeaten streak to 12-0-2 over the last 14 games. More importantly, the Eagles have jumped into 4th in the Pairwise — in position for an all-important home ice spot for the NCAA quarterfinals.
Boston College Goal #1 (SHG): 4:42 of the 1st period
Kristyn Capizzano (Haley McLean)
BC 1, MC 0
This game started out a lot like the BC men’s game against UConn Tuesday night. The Eagles came out strong and got a couple quick ones, but actually managed to get outshot by a lower-ranked team in the first period.
This is your standard issue Kristyn Capizzano goal. Capizzano has a Tier-1 shot, and she rifles one past Samantha Ridgewell for the score.
Capizzano continues to have a breakout season — the Eagles will miss her next year.
Boston College Goal #2 (GWG): 10:25 of the 1st period
Megan Keller (Makenna Newkirk, Kristyn Capizzano)
BC 2, MC 0
Just a few minutes later, BC gets its second after some great puck movement. It’s not a totally clean goal — Capizzano’s shot from the slot was blocked out front — but the Eagles had so many players going to the net that Keller was the only person in the right place to clean up the garbage, putting the Eagles up by 2.
The Eagles really coasted for a while after this goal (as seems to happen in these midweek games — men’s and women’s games alike), until Merrimack got on the board.
Merrimack Goal #1: 9:00 of the 2nd period
Annie Boeckers (Paige Voight, Mikyla Grant-Mentis)
BC 2, MC 1
This is a greasy goal, but it only happens because of the strength on the puck by Grant-Mentis. Anastos rides her into the boards, but Grant-Mentis keeps control and sends the puck into the crease from her knees.
The puck pinballs around until Boeckers gets a stick on it, putting Merrimack on the board and cutting the BC lead in half.
That seemed to wake the Eagles up, though, and it was all BC from there.
Boston College Goal #3 (SHG): 15:42 of the 2nd period
Andie Anastos (Megan Keller)
BC 3, MC 1
What an absolute beauty from Keller and Anastos.
The point at which Merrimack is kind of screwed here is way back at the BC blue line. The puck is turned over, but Merrimack still has a player back. Unfortunately, that player knows that despite being closer to the puck, if she goes after it she’s going to give up a three-line breakaway to a future Olympian, and decides to just try and keep Keller out of a straight-line path to the net.
She actually does as well as you could hope, but Keller can do more than shoot. This pass to Anastos is a masterpiece. She barely looks back, if at all, and still manages to put the puck right on Anastos’ stick. Whether Anastos was audibly calling for the puck, I don’t know, but that was quite some intuition from Keller.
Anastos’ finish is as pretty as you please, roofing the backhand over a sprawling Ridgewell, and that sucked whatever remaining life was left in the Warriors.
Boston College Goal #4: 10:45 of the 3rd period
Makenna Newkirk (Megan Keller)
BC 4, MC 1 — FINAL
Makenna Newkirk tacked on a seeing-eye backhand through Ridgewell in the third period, and that would be that.
BC’s winning streak hasn’t come against any ranked teams, and there won’t be any others for the rest of the season, but they can only play the teams on the schedule. The rest of the teams around them have had troubles against lesser teams, and it’s seen the Eagles climb into a home ice spot for the NCAA tournament within shouting distance of 2nd place.
Also, with the win, the Eagles are two points back — one win — from claiming the Hockey East title outright, with 5 games to go. That would be BC’s third consecutive regular season league championship.
First, though, the Eagles will head to Matthews Arena for the first round of the Beanpot on Tuesday against Boston University. BC and BU will have the early game, with Northeastern vs. Harvard taking the nightcap with NU on home ice. Puck drop for the Eagles is at 5pm.