The Boston College women’s hockey team is ready to reclaim their spot among the nation’s elite after struggling with growing pains throughout the 2019-2020 season. Last year was a rebuilding year for an Eagles team looking to replace nine top players, and they finished with their worst record in a decade at 17-16-3.
The 2020-2021 BC squad will again be young and have major roster turnovers with 10 newcomers on a 25-player roster, but there is more than enough talent returning this year for the Eagles to compete at the top of Hockey East.
The forwards were hit hardest by the departures with five gone from last year, but goal output shouldn’t be a major concern this season because seven of the top eight scorers are returners. Reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Year Hannah Bilka is the headliner after leading BC with 37 points in 34 games in her debut season and will form one of the deadliest tandems in the conference with Kelly Brown, who contributed 36 points in as many games during her sophomore year.
Rounding out the returnees in the BC attack are Savannah Norcross (17 pts in 36 games), Olivia Finocchiaro (17 in 36 games), Maegan Beres (13 in 36 games), and Caroline DiFiore (12 in 36 games). Beres is the most experienced as the only senior in this group, but the others will have to step up in leadership roles with a staggering six freshmen joining the forwards to compete for ice time.
While the roster transitions adds some question marks to what should otherwise be an improved forward group, the BC defense is as stable as ever with no departures and only a pair of newcomers. Cayla Barnes is the team’s definite anchor after competing for the U.S. National Team in the 2018 Olympics and finishing first in Hockey East and third nationally last season with 103 blocked shots.
Barnes was the team’s top scoring defenseman in 2019-2020 with 23 points in 35 games, but not far behind were Alexie Guay (19 in 36 games) and Hadley Hartmetz (15 in 36 games). Adding depth to the talented group are Jillian Fey and prized recruits Sidney Fess and Maddie Crowley-Cahill who will all receive significant playing time.
Head Coach Katie Crowley has tough decisions to make when it comes to her goaltending crew. Maddy McArthur returns as a phenomenal talent in net for the Eagles after starting 26 games with 2.51 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
Challenging her for the first string is star transfer Abbey Levy from Minnesota State. Levy’s 2.97 goals against average and .903 save percentage last season aren’t eye-popping numbers, but she recorded them on a small fish in a big pond in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association against powerhouse programs like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, and Ohio State.
The roster overhaul may appear frightening after a nightmare season last year, but the Eagles are well-equipped to take the next steps towards conference and national contention. Crowley’s young squad was able to rebound with their first test of the season Friday night at New Hampshire, where they earned their first win by a score of 6-2.