Boston College women’s hockey faced off against the UConn Huskies over the weekend in Hockey East action. The No. 6 ranked Eagles looked to rebound on home ice Friday night following a crushing 3-0 midweek defeat to No. 3 Northeastern, but were stunned by a third period UConn goal to fall 2-1. Fortunately, Savannah Norcross was able to secure a weekend split with a last-minute winner the following afternoon.
BC got off to a promising start in the first period of the weekend series on Friday when Norcross slotted home a power-play goal about halfway through the period. With an extra skater on the ice, the Eagles finally got room to breathe after some pesky UConn pressure and scored the opener when Kelly Browne found Norcross in front of the goal who surgically slid the puck into the top right corner of the net.
BC carried this one-goal advantage into the second period, but not all was well for the Eagles. Goaltender Kelly Pickreign heroically saved several great looks by the Huskies throughout the first period, and it was a long time coming when UConn tied up the score at 1 early in the second frame on a long strike through traffic.
UConn came dangerously close to adding another goal before the end of the period after three consecutive BC penalties, but Pickreign kept BC in the game with several more brilliant saves.
Pickreign, while exceptional all evening in net, couldn’t help but let in her second goal of the game just six minutes into the third period. While she certainly could have prevented UConn’s floating long-distance equalizer in the second period, Pickreign was left for dead on a crafty one-on-one deke and backhand finish in front of the goal.
The sudden deficit seemed to shake some life into BC’s attack which looked drowsy since the first period, and the final half of the frame became an all-out blitz of the Huskies’ backline. By some miracle, UConn’s Morgan Fisher kept her net unscathed and even managed to outshine Pickreign on one of her stronger performances of the early season.
Fisher saved an astounding 38 shots on the evening, including all 20 attempts in the final frame–an Eagles' season-high for any period. At the final horn, BC had fallen for the second time this season to the Huskies and struggled to finish in front of the net for the second game in a row.
The Eagles hoped that the short road trip to Connecticut the next day would clear their heads and straighten out their offensive woes. It looked like the change of scenery did the trick when Cayla Barnes slotted home a goal just six minutes into Saturday’s game. Barnes scooped up the puck near center ice before hesitating to beat a Husky defender and blasting the puck into the left corner of the net on a magnificent unassisted effort.
BC would get two scintillating power play chances to double their lead before the period’s end, but came up empty-handed after failing to find the necessary connection to beat Fisher for a second time.
UConn would punish BC for their wastefulness with an infuriating equalizer less than a minute into the second frame, and BC fans who made the trip to the game were given an immediate taste of déjà vu from the night before.
Just like on Friday night, the second period would end with the score knotted up at 1 apiece, but not after a few frightening power-play opportunities for the Huskies towards the end of the period. Luckily for the Eagles, that’s where all comparisons would end, and this time there would be no early third period UConn goal to raise the collective blood pressures of the fans and the team.
Instead, the final frame involved a lot of back and forth play between the two teams with little to show for it on the scoreboard, despite a golden chance for BC to take the lead on a power-play two minutes in. Fisher once again held her own in net for the Huskies, and as the clock wound down, the game looked destined for overtime.
However, with just a minute to play, Norcross rose to the occasion to secure a monumental victory for the Eagles. Kelly Browne’s strike on goal appeared at first to have been cleanly saved by Fisher, but the puck slipped from her grasp into the crease, inciting a frantic dash for control of the puck and ultimately the game.
It was Norcross who came out victorious as she poked the puck free from a labyrinth of bodies into the net, and after an official review, the scrappy goal was awarded to the Eagles to give BC a 2-1 victory.
The win was a much-needed boost for the Eagles to snap their two-game losing streak and get them back on track with games against the country's top two teams looming next weekend in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Eagles currently nest at 11-3-1 on the season overall, and are sure to drop significantly from their No. 6 national ranking after losing twice in the past week. The team will need to win at least one game and look competitive next weekend to prove that they are true challengers for a national crown.
BC will take on No. 1 Minnesota and No. 2 Wisconsin on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, respectively–both games at 2 p.m.–as part of the Country Classic. The pair of titanic matchups should provide a much better measuring stick for where this hockey team is truly at.