January 3, 2014

Women's Journal: Eagles set sights on Hockey East crown

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

The year 2013 marked Boston College women's hockey's third straight Frozen Four appearance. Surprisingly, making it to a fourth straight isn't the first goal that Eagles head coach Katie King Crowley mentions when asked about goals for 2014.

“We haven't been able to get a Hockey East regular season championship yet,” said Crowley during the Eagles' long winter break, which will conclude next Wednesday when they face Boston University for the first time this season. “That has always been one of our goals.”

The Eagles are in an excellent spot to try for that first regular season title as they begin the second half of their season. They currently sit second in Hockey East standings with a 7-1-0 record. But that's not the only goal - another Frozen Four berth is in reach as well with a 12-4-2 record and a national top ten ranking.

Player leadership will be crucial for another long post-season run, and Crowley's experienced upperclassmen provide just that.

“Our seniors have been through a lot over their four years,” reflected Crowley, who is in her seventh year as head coach of the Eagles. “They know what it takes to get to a Frozen Four, but they also know how to help our younger kids get over the losses early in the season. They tell them to work on the things we did well and take it from there.”

Crowley credits senior co-captain Meagan Mangene as being one of the best teachers for the underclassmen. “She doesn't let a lot get to her, and that is important for the younger kids to see.”

The first half of this season has given the Eagles a few spots to brush aside. They suffered losses to UNH, Syracuse, Quinnipiac and Cornell. BC never let the sourness of those losses taint the games that followed, especially in the Thanksgiving weekend series at nationally ranked Cornell. Bouncing right back, they defeated the Big Red they next day, 4-1. The Eagles followed that with a 1-1 tie against another nationally ranked team, Harvard, just days later.

“We have had some games with have learned from,” said Crowley. “We had three very big games (the series at Cornell and the game against Harvard) towards the end of the semester that I thought we did well in. We started to play the games we are capable of playing.”

The Eagles have had to figure out how stellar sophomore Haley Skarupa can continue her dominance with defenses now focusing much of their effort on her.

“This year has been a challenge for her, because she knows the other teams are looking at her,” explained Crowley. “There isn't a spot where she hasn't had a bruise from the way she has been defended. We have worked with her on it mentally as well. We rely on her to produce and she has responded, and she'll continue to excel.”

Skarupa is not the only one who has stepped up for the Eagles. Freshman Andie Anastos leads Hockey East in freshman scoring with eight goals and eight assists, and fellow rookie Kristyn Capizzano is not far behind with six goals and seven assists.

Crowley points to those two, plus Haley McLean, as newcomers who have contributed immediately. “Those three have done a great job of making their play faster and quicker, and that is what we've asked of them.”

The Eagles have stepped up not just on the ice, but on the holiday fashion front as well. Crowley and her assistant coach Courtney Kennedy were pleasantly surprised by their creativity when it came to their first ever “ugly sweater practice” before finals.

“The kids really stepped up their game,” laughed Crowley. “A couple of them had lights and even plugged themselves in on the bench. Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.) had ornaments, and she ended up playing goalie for fun, and we ended up having to clean up the ice because they went flying all over the place.”

For Crowley, the ugly sweater practice was a great way to wrap up an very eventful year both on and off the ice.

“It's been an awesome year with the birth of my daughter and having her around these 24 great kids. And last season, having our best game of the year be at the Frozen Four, was great. Hopefully there is more to come.”

Olympic Team Selection  

The United States and Canada announced their final Olympic Team rosters over the holidays, and players with New England ties play significant roles in both.

Six players with New England college ties were named to the Canadian team. The only current college hockey player among them was Boston University forward Marie-Philip Poulin. Former Terrier forward Jenn Wakefield and defensemen Tara Watchorn and Catherine Ward will join Poulin. Legendary Providence College goalie Genevieve Lacasse is one of Canada's goaltenders. Former Dartmouth forward Gillian Apps will take part in her third Olympics.

Ten players who either played college hockey or were raised in New England were named to the US roster on New Year's Day. As expected given Katey Stone's leadership, Harvard has a large footprint, including current forward Lyndsey Fry, current defensemen Michelle Picard (Taunton, Mass.), former defensemen Josephine Pucci, and former forward Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.). Boston College has three representatives, with forwards Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) and Kelli Stack and goaltender Molly Schaus (Natick, Mass.) making the team. Northeastern is represented with forward Kendall Coyne. Former University of New Hampshire defenseman Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) and former University of Wisconsin forward Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) will be a part of their second Olympic team.

Game of the Week

Northeastern versus Harvard, Saturday afternoon
A Northeaster ruined Northeastern's plans. The Huskies and Crimson were scheduled to face off in Frozen Fenway 2014's only women's college game Thursday afternoon at 3:30pm, but the predicted heavy snow bumped the game toSaturday afternoon at Harvard (time to be determined.)
Northeastern has not defeated Harvard for over 12 years, with their last win coming in December of 2001. The Huskies will need to begin their 2014 with a few wins to improve their status for a possible post-season run, but the Crimson bring a nine game undefeated streak into the new year and don't look to be slowing down. 

Team of the Week, Player of the Week and Power Rankings are on a hiatus due to the holiday break between the ECAC and Hockey East.

Twitter: @sportsgirlkat
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