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Monday, Sept. 15, 10:41 a.m.
Sports

Boston College gets best of UMaine women’s hockey in annual Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer game

Haley Johnston

Eleven players found the score sheet for No. 2 Boston College as they outlasted the University of Maine women’s hockey team by a score of 6-3 Saturday night at Alfond Arena in UMaine’s seventh annual Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer game.

BC remains tied for first place with rival Boston University atop the Hockey East standings with 27 points in conference following Saturday’s victory. The win improves the Eagles’ record to 20-4-2 on the season and 13-2-1 against conference foes.

UMaine remains one point ahead of UConn for seventh place in the WHEA standings despite the loss. The Black Bears see their record dip to 4-19-3 overall, 1-12-1 in conference, and now sit nine points behind sixth-place Vermont after Saturday’s defeat.

The second period provided the bulk of the scoring after the two squads skated to a 0-0 draw in the first 20 minutes, thanks to a stingy UMaine defensive effort led by the solid goaltending of senior Brittany Ott.

The Black Bears got on the board first, just 20 seconds into the frame on a power-play effort. Senior forward Brittany Dougherty created the chance on a net drive that led to a scramble in front. Freshman forward Shawna Lesperance was there to clean up the loose puck, tapping it past BC senior goaltender Corinne Boyles to give UMaine a 1-0 advantage. Sophomore forward Jennifer More was given the secondary assist on the tally.

Eagles’ sophomore forward Alex Carpenter responded quickly with two goals of her own, however, sparking a string of four unanswered scores by BC that effectively snuffed out any Black Bear momentum.

Carpenter’s first came on a net drive on the power play with 3 minutes gone in the period to tie the game at one. Hockey East’s top point-getter made her way to the front of the UMaine crease where she was able to beat Ott five-hole to extend her point streak to a school-record 24 games. She was assisted by fellow sophomore forward Emily Field.

Carpenter gave the Eagles their first lead of the night less than 3 minutes later on a cross-ice pass that found the sophomore with space in front of Ott, and she didn’t miss. Junior forward Melissa Bizzari and sophomore forward Kate Leary assisted on Carpenter’s 23rd goal of the year.

“Alex is one of the most competitive people that I’ve been around,” BC head coach Katie King Crowley said after the game. “I think it shows every day on the ice whether it’s in practice or whether it’s in the games. She’s really done a great job this year in really taking that next step.

“She’s got great players around her, which is really helping her as well,” she added, “but I think that competitive edge she has is one of the things that’s unique to her specifically and she really wills her team to win.”

A UMaine penalty gave the Eagles another chance on the power play with just over 8 minutes remaining in the second period, and they didn’t waste it. Bizzari netted a goal of her own — the junior’s 14th of the season — to put BC up two on a one-timer in front that was set up by freshman forward Dana Trivigno and sophomore defender Emily Pfalzer.

The two teams played well on the power play Saturday night, as both finished 3-5 with the extra skater in the contest.

BC would extend their lead to three with 5 minutes left in the period on a shot from just behind the right dot that found its way passed Ott to make it 4-1. Freshman defender Lexi Bender’s second goal of the year finished up the second period scoring. She was assisted by junior forward Meagan Mangene and junior forward Taylor Wasylk, the seventh Eagle to find the score sheet in the stanza.

“Every time we took a lapse or we stood and watched, they capitalized,” UMaine head coach Maria Lewis said. “But what I’m really proud of the team [for] is that we didn’t give up. We took some dips, but we found a way to climb out of that and keep going hard.”

Both teams found the back of the net twice in the final 20 minutes as BC hung on for the 6-3 victory.

The Black Bears scored first on the power play 8 minutes into the final period on a deflected shot from the point. Senior defender Brittney Huneke threw a shot on net that found junior forward Missy Denk’s stick on its way passed Boyles to cut the BC lead to two.

The senior finished with 22 saves on 25 shots in the win for the Eagles. Ott stopped 34 of the 40 shots she faced in net for UMaine.

BC answered with a power play goal of its own with just under 5 minutes left in regulation. Senior defender Dru Burns notched her first goal of the year on a one-timer from the slot to put the Eagles up 5-2. Carpenter recorded her league-leading 30th assist of the season on the tally, with senior forward Ashley Motherwell earning the secondary assist.

The lead stretched to four once more off another deflection in front of Ott around the 3-minute mark. Leary found the twine this time off of an assist by Bender.

UMaine capped the scoring on a tip-in by Lesperance with 34 seconds left to make it 6-3. Junior defender Kelly McDonald and junior forward Kayla Kaluzny were credited with the assists on Lesperance’s second goal of the contest.

“BC’s the number two team in the country,” Lewis said after the game. “I’m proud of the team for making some huge strides from the last time we played them and not being afraid to play against a team like BC and proving that we do belong on the ice with them.”

The Black Bears travel to Vermont to take on the Catamounts in a two-game set, Feb. 9-10, with game time for both contests scheduled for 2 p.m.

“I think if we play this way against Vermont… they don’t have the speed and the skill and the depth that BC has,” Lewis said. “We have to show up still, but, with the way we’ve been practicing and how hard we’ve been going, [we should fare well].”

Crowley hopes the balanced attack her team showed on Saturday is a trend that continues the rest of the season. It will be put to the test when they play No. 3 Harvard University in the first game of the 35th annual Beanpot Tournament in Boston, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m.

“It’s great,” Crowley said when asked about her team’s all-around effort from Saturday. “We’ve been hoping for that for our program for a while and now we finally have it.”