All season, the Boston College women's hockey team has had one goal: to return to the Frozen Four. The Eagles used one of their most solid performances of the past few weeks to defeat Harvard and solidify a spot in next week's Frozen Four.
"Our kids really played a great game for a full sixty minutes," commented Eagles head coach Katie King Crowley. "I knew our team could play that way. I thought they did a great job coming out hungry."
Boston College came out hungry, but the beginning of the game was still frustrating for the Eagles. Haley Skarupa and Ashley Motherwell threatened Harvard freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer early, but she was able to turn them away.
The Crimson first took advantage of an Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.) hooking call, Boston College's second penalty of the first period. Samantha Reber and Kaitlin Spurling's (Byfield, Mass.) crisp passes fed Mary Parker (Milton, Mass.) at the bottom of the faceoff circle. Parker shot it past Corinne Boyles for the score at the 16:00 minute mark of the first.
"I think once Harvard scored that first goal, that really lit a fire under us," said King Crowley. "I thought our team did a great job coming right back, putting pucks on net."
Exactly a minute later, one of those shots proved successful. Skarupa lost her handle on a shot on net, but it had just enough power to make its way towards the net. Maschmeyer went to cover up the puck, but traffic in front of her caused her to miss the cover and it dribbled into the net to tie the game at one.
The Eagles took the lead for good just over two minutes into the second period. Caitlin Walsh (Franklin, Mass.) skated up the right side of the rink and shot the puck from the top of the faceoff circle through Maschmeyer's leg pads to score what would be the game-winning goal, giving Boston College a 2-1 lead.
Harvard controlled much of the second period's play after the Eagles' go-ahead goal. Spurling tried to spur on the Crimson offense, attempting a beautiful wrap around shot that was stonewalled by Boyles. Shots by Kalley Armstrong, Hillary Crowe and Parker were chopped up by some quality defensive work by the Eagles.
"Our forecheck was tremendous today," said King Crowley. "Our first forecheckers were great on every line, and it helped us keep them in their zone when we needed to."
With just under five minutes left in the period, Boston College captain Blake Bolden finally got another offensive chance going for towards the Eagles. Streaming up the boards, Bolden took a slapper just over the blue line, which Alex Carpenter (Reading, Mass.) tipped in to put the Eagles ahead 3-1.
Immediately following Carpenter's goal, Harvard tried to put the puck back into Boston College's zone, but Dru Burns intercepted a pass with her skate edge, allowing the Eagles to maintain pressure in the Harvard zone through much of the remainder of the second.
The third period showed more of the same play of the second. Boston College was able to limit the penalties that had gotten them in trouble in past games, and continued excellent defensive play to force Harvard to the outside and limit the quality of their shots. Boyles made 13 saves in the third period alone, turning away chances by a motivated Parker and Spurling and running out the clock for the Eagles.
Boyles ended the day having turned away 30 Harvard shots, improving her record to 22-4-1. Maschmeyer made 21 saves in the loss, ending her rookie season 12-6-1.
Harvard head coach Katey Stone was understandably disappointed by her team's performance, but didn't have a clear cut answer for why it went so poorly. "You could have the greatest week of preparation, like we did. Everyone was loose, everyone was fired up. But you go back to they're 18-22 year olds and it is a flip of the coin."
Boston College will face Minnesota in the Frozen Four semifinals
on Friday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Terriers Frozen Four-bound, too
In Saturday's other Boston based NCAA Quarterfinal, Boston University edged Clarkson, 5-3, thanks to a resilient third period.
Marie-Philip Poulin struck first for the Terriers, burying a feed from Jenelle Kohanchuk 4:49 into the first period. Despite the Golden Knights having the lead in shots (10 in the first), Boston University took a 1-0 lead into the second period, but was unable to keep the advantage for long.
Clarkson's Erin Ambrose got the Golden Knights on the board 1:44 seconds into the second frame. The right defenseman scored her sixth goal of the season with help from Shelby Nisbet and Carly Mercer.
The Golden Knights continued to pepper Terriers' goaltender Kerrin Sperry (North Reading, Mass.) in the second period, but she came up with several stellar saves to keep the game knotted at one.
"(Clarkson) plays a conservative style, though you wouldn't have been able to tell that with all of the shots they put on goal," said Boston University head coach Brian Durocher.
With under three minutes to go in the second, Kohanchuk and Poulin combined yet again for a goal, this time with Poulin feeding Kohanchuk for the go ahead tally.
Boston University came out of the second intermission pressuring in the Clarkson zone immediately. Shannon Doyle and Isabel Menard shot on Golden Knights goalie Erica Howe, but she denied both. Terrier freshman Sarah Lefort took advantage of some busyness to the left side of Howe to glide in front of her and stop to chip in a shot on the right side of the net. The goal gave Boston University a 3-1 lead nine minutes into the last period.
Twenty-six seconds later, Louise Warren was rewarded for her consistent effort with a similar chip in goal on Howe's right side to give the Terriers a 4-1 advantage. Menard earned her 29th assist of the year on the score.
Clarkson refused to let the increasing score do them in. On the possession following Warren's goal, Christine Lambert used some high energy to score a goal off a Jamie Lee Rattray pass. The Golden Knights brought themselves within two with just about half of the third period remaining.
Clarkson continued to threaten and pressure in the Boston University zone, causing the Terriers' to focus on a team defense. Kohanchuk and Menard did their part by blocking two promising Golden Knights shots. But the pressure got to be too much, and Shannon MacAulay took advantage of a turnover by Kaleigh Fratkin to score and bring the game within just one goal with just under five minutes left.
But Boston University broke up some Clarkson passes and combined
their efforts there with a few sprawling saves by Sperry, The
Golden Knights pulled Howe for the extra attacker, but the move
allowed Lefort to tally an empty netter to secure the Terriers'
Frozen Four berth.
Boston University will face surprise semifinalist Mercyhurst on Friday in Minnesota.