The Boston College Eagles have nothing to hang their collective heads about after reaching the NCAA Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. Unfortunately for the Eagles they ran into the buzz saw of the University of Wisconsin again.
The Eagles benefited from a wealth of experience to earn their second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four. (Photo by Joshua Lentine/BC Athletics)
Freshman Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.) scored the opening tally of the game for the Eagles just 57 seconds into the semifinal matchup and the Eagles were cooking early.
“We really thought it was important to score first and keep the momentum because we were aware of Wisconsin’s power,” junior Blake Bolden said. “When we scored that goal, it was very fast; I was in shock. “
After that, though, the Badgers flexed their muscle en route to the 6-2 victory. Freshman Alex Carpenter (Reading, Mass.) netted the other goal for BC.
“We thought there were weaknesses we could take advantage of and that’s what we really focused on,” BC junior goaltender Corinne Boyles said. “I tried to keep a simple game plan; be patient and control my rebounds.”
Boyles made 32 saves and set the Eagles’ single-season record with 927. Molly Schaus (Natick, Mass.) held the previous record with 920 in 2006-07. Boyles had the chance to learn from Schaus during last year’s Frozen Four run.
“The biggest thing I learned from Molly was consistency,” Boyles said. “I think she is one of the most consistent goalies I’ve ever played with, which helps your team trust you and they know what to expect from you every game.”
The trip to Duluth, Minn., was part of BC’s fourth NCAA tournament appearance and third overall venture to the Frozen Four.
The Eagles matched a school record with 24 wins for the year while never losing more than two games in a row, finishing the season 24-10-3.
Head coach Katie King-Crowley (Salem, N.H.) was recognized for her work this year as a finalist for the American Hockey Coaches Association Division 1 Coach of the Year. She joined a list that also included Northeastern’s Dave Flint (Merrimack, N.H.) and Maine’s Maria Lewis, among others.
“All season, they did a great job of maintaining poise whether we lost or what the situation was,” King-Crowley said. “They really handled the ups and downs of a season in a good way.”
With this being the team’s second consecutive appearance in the Frozen Four, they were prepared for what they saw.
“This year we had so many more players that went (last year), (so) they were pretty prepared for what was going to happen,” King-Crowley said. “Just the little things, the atmosphere and all that sort of stuff, that it really made it easier for the team to go out there and be pretty relaxed.”
Bolden was one of those players making a return trip to the Frozen Four and she knows how important last year’s experience was.
“We understood what to expect (when we arrived) and it was more of a business trip this year,” Bolden said.
The senior class for the Eagles concluded its career with a record of 78-43-24, the second most wins by a class at BC. A few of the key losses for BC are Mary Restuccia, Danielle Welch and Andrea Green.
Restuccia was the team leader with 24 assists and played in 35 of the team’s 37 games.
“Mary had been more of an assist threat for us this year, but an offensive threat for four years,” King-Crowley said. “We’ll definitely miss a player like that, a seasoned veteran.”
Welch’s 11 goals placed her fifth on the team, as she tallied a total of 20 points.
“Danielle wasn’t involved in too much of the glory, but she’d step in front of a shot any time she could and block a shot,” King-Crowley said. “I’ve never known a kid to have more bruises than her.”
Green saw action in all 37 games for the Eagles.
“Andrea, one of the senior captains, kept our team together,” King-Crowley said. “Maybe she wasn’t on the ice as much as some, but mentally she was great for our team.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, a lot of their production came from the younger players on the squad. Carpenter led the team with 21 goals and 39 points while her linemate and classmate Field was second with 32 points.
“Alex and Emily have got that connection with each other on the ice and they’ve really done some great things,” King-Crowley said. “We’re excited they were able to experience the Frozen Four and see how hard it is to get there.”
Also, Bolden, one of this season’s top performers with eight goals and 13 assists, will be back for her senior season in 2012-13.
Once one season ends, the next begins, as King-Crowley begins recruiting trips almost immediately.
“I think we’re so fortunate at BC that it’s such a great school,” King-Crowley said. “We’re starting to stay up there (in the standings), (which is) a lot of fun for the kids.”
BC’s effort is also another positive for Women’s Hockey East as the league appears on the verge of that coveted first national championship.
“We do want to start to make a name for the Eastern schools and for Hockey East in particular,” King-Crowley said. “I think our league has gotten a lot better and improved.”
“I really do think that Hockey East has built itself to become the predominant league in the NCAA,” Bolden added.
The Eagles fully expect to be back in the mix for a national championship next year.
This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.
Scott Sudikoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org