In a month known for things thought improbable coming to fruition, for part of the third period in the first game of Saturday’s Hockey East semifinal, it seemed another March Madness upset was coming to fruition.
A hot goaltender stymieing a offense that has been hot all year, coupled with an offense taking advantage of opportunities given to them, seemed like the recipe for a classic tournament upset.
Then, on two quick goals, the dream of a tournament upset was dashed.
Despite blowing a 2-0 lead early in the third period, No. 1 Boston College defeated Connecticut 4-2 to advance to the Hockey East championship.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” BC coach Katie Crowley said. “They threw everything at us, and I thought our team handled it well, especially after they got the tying goal, I thought they handled it really well after that. It’s really exciting for us moving forward.
Haley Skarupa opened the scoring for the Eagles past the three-quarter mark of the first period. On a power play, Skarupa received a feed from Alex Carpenter and blasted a shot past Connecticut goalie Elaine Chuli from in between the faceoff circles.
The Eagles’ second goal didn’t come until the game was approaching the halfway point. Meghan Grieves picked up the puck inside the defensive zone and went end to end to snipe a puck past Chuli, giving the Eagles the 2-0 lead.
All the while, BC was peppering Chuli with shots. The Eagles outshot the Huskies 28-12 in two periods of play.
Then, the game shifted.
If the Eagles’ onslaught had been at a snails’ pace, UConn’s comeback was at a rabbit’s. It started with Theresa Knutson, who fired a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Katie Burt high. The Eagles entered the locker room up 2-1.
Just 58 seconds into the third period, Justine Fredette took advantage of Burt trying to pokecheck away a puck and tipped the puck in over the outstretched body of Burt, tying the game at two.
Then UConn’s Achilles’ heel the whole game, the power play, stopped its momentum.
Knutson took a penalty for holding Skarupa’s stick minutes after the Fredette goal. From there, the Eagles power play paid dividends on a Carpenter rocket from the faceoff circle, giving BC a lead that it did not relinquish.
“They have really, really good offensive players,” UConn coach Chris MacKenzie said. “They way they scored was just broken plays. They have a deadly power play, [our] penalty kill was not where it needed to be. Special teams was definitely the difference.”
Kristyn Capizzano added one more goal for the Eagles, who will play in their sixth title game in program history. They will play the winner of the second game between Boston University and Northeastern.
History, however, is not on the Eagles side. In five championship game appearances, BC has a 1-4 record. The Eagles are also on a two-game losing streak in the championship game, with both losses at the hands of the BU Terriers.