Women's Hockey Prepares For NCAA's

The women's hockey team lost in the Hockey East finals and now prepares for the NCAA's. They will begin their tournament in Minnesota against the Gophers in round one. Eagle Insider checked in with the team as they prepare to head off for game one of the tournament.

The Boston College women's hockey team travels out west to face the University of Minnesota in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The second-seeded Golden Gophers are looking for their fourth national title since 2000. The Eagles, seeded seventh, seek their first.

Both teams enter the tournament coming off losses in their conference championships. Minnesota, the regular season Western Collegiate Hockey Association champions, fell to Wisconsin. The first period of the game passed without a goal, but the Badgers netted two goals in just over a minute and a half about five minutes into the second. Late in the period, the Gophers cut the lead to one. Wisconsin answered with three more goals in the first fifteen minutes of the third. Minnesota managed two more goals in the last three minutes, but lost 5-3.

The Eagles played a tough game against the University of New Hampshire, who they could not beat this season. BC got off to a slow start in the first period. UNH struck first with a goal at 10:40. Late in the first, the Eagles found themselves in a three-on-five penalty kill. Though goaltender Molly Schaus was able to deflect several shots, the Wildcats got one by her to go up 2-0. BC scored its only goal of the game at 13:22 in the third period. Despite pulling the goalie, the Eagles could not tie the score and lost the game 2-1.

Although they lost the game, BC feels confident going into the tournament against Minnesota. Captain forward Colleen Harris said, "We're feeling pretty good off this weekend; we held UNH to a pretty good game. If we had played the whole sixty minutes we would have been fine."

The Eagles can learn from their mistakes going into Saturday's game and can take the momentum they gained by playing better later in the game against UNH. "We started probably a little bit slow so that's something we need to work on," said head coach Katie King. "They're going to be a physical team and our game against UNH got a little physical. It was a tough game and that's a good thing to have prior to going in to a game like the one we are going to have on Saturday."

The Eagles received contributions from the whole team this season. The awards BC players earned reflected that. Forward Kelli Stack was named TPS Hockey East Player of the Year for the second time, and earned the "Three Stars" award and Hockey East champion honors for her scoring success. Stack, defenseman Maggie Taverna, and goaltender Molly Schaus were all named to the All-Star team.

Forward Allie Thunstrom earned second team honors and forward Mary Restuccia was named to the Mission All-Rookie team. Schaus was also named Pure Hockey Defensive Player of the Week, her seventh Hockey East weekly honor, for her 57 tournament saves, and was BC's first top-ten Patty Kazmaier finalist.

BC's first line, Stack, Thunstrom, and Restuccia, has had great success. Between the three, they have 125 points, 54 goals and 77 assists. Schaus has also consistently played well this season. She has a .908 save percentage, with 833 saves. BC's opponents have been held to almost half the number of goals that BC has scored and in more shots than the Eagles have taken.

Playing at Minnesota will be a different experience for BC, whose home games average an attendance of 184. The Gopher's Ridder Arena holds about 2,500 and will likely sell out. Although the majority there will be cheering on the home team, the Eagles will have their own fan base at the game. This is an opportunity to play in front of the home crowd for the four Eagles from Minnesota.

Also, some former BC players have relocated to the Midwest, some specifically to Minnesota. They will be at the game, rooting for their alma mater. Assistant coach Courtney Kennedy will not be looking for her former school to win, Kennedy is instead hoping to defeat her alma mater. Friend or foe, the Eagles are looking forward to playing in front of a large crowd.

"It will be nice to play in front of a big crowd for once. For [the Minnesota natives] it will push them to push us even harder," said Harris. "It's just exciting for us. Here we play in front of a hundred people. Out there it will be loud and fun. It will be fun to have somebody yelling out there. It will give us positive energy."

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