Compared to nearly every other varsity sport fielded by Boston College in 2012-13, hockey was heavenly. On the men’s side, even though they did not have a season that lived up to their usual standards, they were still a respected team. Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team continues to establish itself as one of the elite programs in NCAA Division I.
Yet, the question remains: With all of the good the Eagles are doing, when will they finally break through and win the whole thing?
The Boston College Eagles women’s hockey team ended the 2011-12 season in Duluth, Minnesota, and not by random chance: that happens to have been the location of the Frozen Four that year. While in the frosty tundras of northern Minnesota, the Eagles lost to Wisconsin in the national semifinal. It was their second-straight trip to the Frozen Four, and their second-straight loss to Wisconsin in said game.
With a roster full of talent, Boston College saw no reason why it couldn’t clean up in its own conference and get back to the Frozen Four. Such a feat isn’t easy, but expectations remained high for the ladies entering the Fall of 2012 when the puck first dropped.
Regular Season and Playoffs
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the Eagles’ season started with a thud. BC had two Hockey East games right off the bat, and they lost both of them: one was to the Boston University Terriers and the other was to the New Hampshire Wildcats. For good measure, BC lost an exhibition game to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League outfit in Boston in between. The Eagles beat UNH for their first win the night after losing to the Wildcats, and then split a doubleheader with Minnesota-Duluth at Conte Forum. The #5 team in the nation at the time, BC got off to a slightly rocky 1-3 start.
Boston College’s loss to the Bulldogs was their last in a long, long while. From that day on, the Eagles went on an eighteen-game unbeaten streak, a stretch which ended with thirteen wins in a row. It came to an end on January 19, almost three months later, at Mercyhurst in Erie, PA. Over that period, the Boston College ladies shot all the way up to #2 in the national polls. They also established themselves as a dominant offensive team, and by the year’s end, the Eagles would have the most goals scored in Hockey East and the second-highest goals per game in the nation behind the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Much of this was thanks to the outstanding play of women such as Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa, and Melissa Bizzari.
Following their Mercyhurst loss, the Eagles got right back up off the mat and proceeded to win their next four games in a row, eventually falling to Northeastern in the women’s Beanpot championship game. They had defeated Harvard in the first round on February 5, but fell to the Huskies on February 12; it was their 15th loss in 19 games against Northeastern in that competition.
Their sights were set higher than the Beanpot, however. After the title game defeat, Boston College showed even more resiliency and strung together another unbeaten streak, this one lasting six games and carrying into the Hockey East Tournament. As it turns out, that opening day loss to Boston University made all the difference, as the Eagles lost the conference regular-season crown by one point.
BC won its quarterfinal game of the 2013 Hockey East Tournament against Maine with a Haley Skarupa overtime goal, but in the semifinals, the Eagles fell once more to the Northeastern Huskies. Northeastern, in turn, lost the title game to those same pesky BU Terriers.
Despite their loss in the Hockey East Tournament, with a national ranking as high as theirs, their spot as an at-large bid in the eight-team field was assured. Boston College’s women were the fourth-overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, and hosted a home game against Harvard for the right to advance to the 2013 Frozen Four. The Eagles won it, 3-1, and punched their ticket to Minneapolis for their third-straight appearance in the women’s hockey national semifinals.
The bad news for BC is that their first-round draw was Minnesota, the undefeated #1 team in the nation, playing in its own hometown in front of its fans, and angling for history. And, for the third-straight year, the BC Eagles advanced only as far as the Frozen Four semifinal game with a 3-2 overtime loss. To their credit, the Eagles gave the best team in the nation everything they could handle and then some, but once again, a championship was not to be. The Gophers then went on to take down Boston University for the national title and the first-ever perfect season at 41-0-0.
Post-season and beyond
After the year ended, Alex Carpenter was rewarded for her 70-point season by being named a second-team All-American and New England’s Most Valuable Player in women’s college hockey. Both honors were deserved, as she was at the forefront of a very potent Eagle offensive attack. The fact still remains that she was just one of a number of good players on that end of the ice, with veteran goalie Corinne Boyles very respectably leading the way on the defensive end.
Katie King Crowley, head coach of the Eagles, was also named the women’s hockey Coach of the Year in New England and Hockey East Coach of the Year.
It doesn’t matter that this season didn’t end in a championship: clearly, nobody was beating Minnesota, anyway, and the Eagles still accomplished a great deal of good. 2012-13 was, by the numbers, their best season in program history and they have now established themselves as a consistently elite program with three-straight trips to the Frozen Four. Boyles may be graduating soon, but the offensive talent on this BC team is still young and elite. Expectations for 2013-14 will be just as high as they are now, and with good reason.