BC Advances To Second Straight Frozen Four

March 10, 2012

(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)

By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor

Despite falling behind two goals in its NCAA quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 St. Lawrence University, the No. 4 Boston College women’s ice hockey team showed poise, and beat the Saints, 6-3, at Kelley Rink today. The Eagles overcame a difficult deficit, and punched their tickets to the Frozen Four for the second time in as many years.

“The energy on the bench was a big part of it,” said junior Blake Bolden of the comeback. “Once you’re down by two goals, it’s really hard. You have to dig deep, and you have to figure out a way to score goals. We never gave up. We played to win.”

The first period saw both teams evenly matched. BC came away with several scoring opportunities close to net, but a solid SLU defense kept them at bay. On the other end of the ice, junior goaltender Corinne Boyles looked sharp with 12 saves. From the early going, it looked like it would be a goaltending standoff, but freshman forward Alex Carpenter broke the shutout at the 16:30 mark with a shorthanded score. Fellow freshman Emily Field assisted on the goal.

The Eagles went into the locker room with plenty of confidence, up 1-0. SLU changed that quickly, scoring two goals within 40 seconds of the start of the period. Karell Emard started the swing with a top shelf netter off a faceoff. The Eagles had little time to recover from the blow when Michelle Ng broke down the ice and beat Boyles, only 20 seconds after the previous goal.

It didn’t take long for SLU to continue its offensive attack. On a power play, Ellie Williams took advantage of the extra player and drove home a shot to go up 3-1. The Eagles did not appear phased by this turn of events, however, and went straight back to work.

At the 11-minute mark, Field added to her point tally with a power-play goal to bring her team within one. Field found space in the circle and ripped a shot for the score. The Eagles continued to put pressure on SLU’s Carmen MacDonal. Although the Saints had twice as many shots on the period, BC had better quality looks, and created opportunities in the neutral zone.

The home team was finally able to nullify the SLU lead when Bolden broke away with senior captain Mary Restuccia on a two-on-one. The goal was especially memorable for Bolden, who was celebrating her birthday today.

“That goal with 10 seconds left by Blake and Mary, I think, switched our kids’ mindsets going into that third period,” said head coach Katie King Crowley.

Entering the final stanza tied at three, there was a clear playoff atmosphere in Kelley Rink. The Eagles eliminated any chance of the Saints making an early-period run like they did in the second, when senior captain Danielle Welch launched a quick shot from the circle, putting her team up 4-3.

This only began an offensive onslaught for the host. BC outshot SLU 18-5 in the final period. The Eagles gave themselves some cushion with a score from sophomore Taylor Wasylk and an empty-netter from Ashley Motherwell with less than a minute to play.

Defensively, the Eagles were able to shut down the Saints in the final period, keeping the pressure off Boyles. Crowley applauded this effort, as the team managed to maintain the lead from the start of the period.

“In that third period, after we went up by two goals, our defense did a really good job of keeping the puck out of our zone,” she said. “Any time it got near that blue line, they chipped it off the glass into the neutral zone, and gave our forwards a chance to put it deep. I think a lot of our defensemen don’t get enough credit for how hard they play, and how much they mean to this team.”

Crowley was most impressed by her team’s focus throughout the game. Whether up or down in the contest, she credits her players’ full game efforts as the deciding factor.          

“I thought our kids came out with a lot of energy, and finished with a lot of energy,” she said. “I was really proud of the full, 60-minute game. It’s tough when you go down by two goals. That team came at us there in the second period, and I was really proud of the way our kids handled that and came back strong.”

The victory sends the Eagles to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. The nation’s top four teams will compete in Duluth, Minn. BC now waits to see if it will be facing No. 1 Wisconsin or Mercyhurst in the semifinals.

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