Following a pair of 3-2 defeats to Providence last weekend, the Boston College women’s hockey team eyed this weekend series with UConn as an important stretch to both get back on track before a showdown with no. 2 Northeastern and to get revenge on the team that knocked them out of the Hockey East tournament last year.
Payback suddenly appeared to be off the menu when the team announced on Friday afternoon that seven players would be sidelined according to COVID protocol. Despite a thin bench, the Eagles rose to the occasion to squeak out a 5-3 road win on Friday night before topping the Huskies again 3-1 at Kelley Rink on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles got off to a flying start in the first period of the series with two quick goals courtesy of Kelly Browne and Hannah Bilka.
Browne stunned UConn with a spectacular goal just under three minutes into the game when she skated the length of the ice, hesitated to drop a defender as she approached the left side of goal, and slid the puck between the goaltender’s legs. Bilka then extended the lead at the midway point of the first on a redirected slap shot from Alexie Guay.
The Huskies cut the lead back to one only a minute later on a wild deflection that popped right over goaltender Maddy McArthur’s head into the net.
UConn kept the pressure coming towards the end of the opening frame, but McArthur warded off a few good chances to take BC into the break up 2-1 despite a 13-5 shot disadvantage.
The one goal cushion evaporated in a blink of an eye as the Huskies scored 12 seconds into the second period on a sloppy pass that resulted in an easy breakaway goal.
Things continued to go south for BC when a hooking call on Natalie Tulchinsky provided UConn with a power play and chance to take the lead, but McArthur and the Eagles’ defense held strong to kill off the penalty.
Tulchinsky made up for her mistake in a major way once she got back on the ice by scoring the first goal of her career from point-blank range thanks to quick thinking from Jillian Fey to find her in a crowd.
BC carried this 3-2 lead into the second intermission before blowing the game open in the first couple minutes of the third. Browne and Tulchinsky each added another goal, and the Eagles cruised to a 5-3 victory.
From the very beginning of the home leg, it was clear that BC didn’t leave their Midas Touch behind in Connecticut. Adorned in gold sweaters, the Eagles quickly took command on the ice in the first period with a goal from Olivia Finocchario. The power play unit, fruitless to start the season, finally came up golden as Finocchario smoothly tipped in a Hadley Hartmetz slap shot near the midpoint of the first.
McArthur shut down a pair of breakaway Huskies on the other end just a few moments later, and the period would end that way with BC up 1-0.
The teams traded power play opportunities over the first half of the second period but couldn’t find the net, at least until Savannah Norcross and Kelly Browne took matters into their hands. Norcross jumped a pass at center ice and broke towards the goal with Browne trailing. With one defender to beat, Norcross laid the puck off for Browne and looped around to the far post where a telepathic pass from Browne was waiting to be tapped in.
Two minutes after that work of art, the duo combined again to extend the lead to 3-0. Norcross met Browne with a soft pass at full-speed through the neutral zone, and Browne barely slowed down as she slalomed through the UConn defense for an easy finish.
The Huskies finally got on the board early in the final frame, but they never gave BC much of a scare despite earning a few late power plays, and the game ended at 3-1.
The series against UConn went smoother than expected for the Eagles who were limited due to COVID restrictions and will likely be so next weekend against no. 2 Northeastern. To compete with the Huskies, the team is going to need some luck with hopefully no more players joining the seven who missed this weekend and will have to start capitalizing on some of these power play opportunities.
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