Hockey Notebook

The Boston College hockey team saw their chances for home ice in the Hockey East playoffs as well as an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament greatly diminish last weekend, going 0-2-0 in a crucial home-and-home series against UNH. The women's team, however, finished the season on a roll and looking forward to post-season play.

•The Boston College women's ice hockey team finished its regular season with a 1-0-1 weekend against the Providence College Friars, ending the year with an impressive 21-7-5 record. On Friday evening in Providence, junior forward Allie Thunstrom scored two goals to power BC to a 5-1 rout. On Saturday's senior day at Conte Forum, Kelli Stack scored her team-leading 22nd goal of the year as BC and Providence slogged to a 1-1 tie. The Friars won the shootout to take home the extra point.

The Eagles finished 14-5-3 in Hockey East, good for 2nd place in the conference. They along with UNH will rest this weekend while #3 BU takes on #6 Northeastern and #4 Providence hosts #5 UConn in the quarterfinal round of the Hockey East playoffs. BC will take on the highest remaining seed out of those four teams on Saturday, March 7 at UNH's Whittemore Center in the conference semifinals.

"[Women's hockey head coach Katie King] and I bump into each other a lot," said men's head coach Jerry York. "We're all excited about everything going on at BC, with the basketball team moving forward and the women's basketball team having a good season as well. We're obviously excited by the fact that our on-ice neighbors are having a great season. Katie [King] and Courtney [Kennedy] do a great job with the women's program."

•The BC women finished the regular season with Hockey East's leader in assists and points (Stack), two of the league's top 5 in goals (Stack and Thunstrom), two of the league's top four freshman scorers (Mary Restuccia and Danielle Welch), the top two shorthanded point scorers (Stack and Thunstrom), and the goalie with the best save percentage, winning percentage, and goals against average in the league (Molly Schaus). The Eagles gave up the fewest goals of any team in the league (55 in 33 games), scored the 2nd most goals (100), and led the league with a 90.9% penalty kill.

•For the men, it was another in a long line of frustrating weekends, dropping two games against New Hampshire. On Friday, BC fell behind 3-0 at the Whittemore Center before crawling back to within 1, losing 3-2.

Saturday's game at Conte Forum had a similar storyline, with the Eagles struggling to an early 3-1 deficit before dominating stretches of the 3rd period, closing the gap to 3-2 on a Ben Smith goal with 12 minutes to play. BC barraged UNH netminder Brian Foster with 17 third period shots, but could not get the equalizer, and James vanRiemsdyk put the game away with an empty-netter to nail down a 4-2 win for the Wildcats.

"It's a combination of both frustration and encouragement," said York in response to his team's two near-comebacks. "We did everything but sink the putt. We couldn't quite finish the game off, because we didn't play 60 full minutes."

Goaltender John Muse felt encouraged by the late-game turnarounds, despite the disappointment of falling short.

"It's frustrating that we haven't played a full 60, but it's good that we play well for some stretches. I'd rather have that, and know we're capable, than not have it at all," he said. "We played well for 2 periods each night. We need to put it together."

What led to BC's improvement in the 3rd period of each game?

"It's a little bit of focus, a little bit of the way we play," said Muse. "When we're playing well, we're moving our feet, moving the puck. Our breakouts from the defensive end are better. We're crisper. We were doing that in the 3rd."

"We were managing the puck better," added York. "We were making safer plays, smarter plays – good, strong plays. We were getting the puck deep and forcing their defensemen. We need to keep that up for 60 minutes."

Another concern of York's was the defensive breakdowns that led to UNH's goals on Saturday

"We gave them their opportunities," he said. "Turnovers were the source of their offense. They're a good team and they develop a lot of their own chances, but we gave them their chances on Saturday."

"On a few occasions, we tried to make a tougher play than was available to make," said Muse. "When we're playing better, we make the easier pass to get the puck out of our zone."

•Despite BC's precarious situation – their pairwise ranking leaves almost no chance of making NCAAs without a Hockey East title, and prospects for home ice advantage in the conference tournament are very slim – the Eagles are trying to stay upbeat and optimistic, and they feel that the attitude in the locker room is still positive.

"[Team manager and BC senior] Justin Murphy came up with an analogy for us that we've been talking about all week, looking at the 1999 US Ryder Cup team," said York. "Most people thought their deficit was insurmountable, but they came back… and Justin Leonard hit that long putt to win it for them. History says that teams can get hot – our team last year is obviously an example of that."

"No question, we're staying positive," he continued. "We want to have an indomitable spirit."

"The mood is about the same [as it was last year]," said Muse. "Every team goes through those stretches where they can't seem to get wins. We have been playing pretty well lately though and it's a matter of putting it together and getting points."

•Defenseman Tim Filangieri, who missed last weekend's games after leaving the Lowell game with an injury, will be back in action this weekend.

"He's full go, 100%," said York. "Everything tested very well. We were trying to be conservative and wanted to make sure everything was all set before we got him back out there."

During Filangieri's absence, York elected to roll 5 defenseman, instead of inserting freshman Malcolm Lyles into the defensive corps. "I wanted to dress the 13th forwards and get Paul Carey out there," York said.

•This weekend, the Eagles host Providence College on Friday night at 7. They then travel to Schneider Arena on Saturday night for the second half of the home-and-home. On January 30, the Eagles and the Friars skated to a 2-2 tie. The Friars, 7-18-5 (4-14-5 HEA) sit 4 points back of Maine for the final conference playoff spot.

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