Bringing an amazing reliability and mature leadership, Kristyn Capizzano established herself as one of the cornerstones of the Boston College Eagles over the last four seasons. In an Eagles career filled with a seemingly endless list of highlights, the consistency of Capizzano can be measured in the fact that she recorded four straight seasons of at least 20 points or more, highlighted by a superlative 30 points in her junior season.
The love of the game certainly runs in Capizzano’s blood, influenced and encouraged by her father Elio. Having worked in a management capacity with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, he was also her coach at the Peewee AAA level, competing on an all-boys that represented the community of Oakville.
Representing the strong values of fidelity and devotion, the chance for Capizzano to gain the honor of the assistant captaincy with the Eagles added to an amazing body of work that has consisted of a legacy of leadership at numerous levels of play. Of note, she served as a captain at the PWHL level with the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs in 2012-13, where she is third in the team’s all-scoring list, trailing Stephanie Gastman and Thea Imbrogno, while ranking 14th overall in league history. During that season, she was also the captain of Oakville’s Appleby College varsity hockey team.
In addition, Capizzano also enjoyed the privilege of adding the prized “C” to her jersey as a member of Canada’s entry at the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, a gold medal effort. It marked her second straight gold medal, as she was also a member of Canada’s roster in 2012, respectively. As a side note, the 2012-13 season also saw Capizzano featured in a special edition of The Hockey News, which was devoted exclusively to women’s hockey, with a glowing Tessa Bonhomme gracing the cover.
Symbolizing Capizzano’s significance as a model teammate during her treasured time in Chestnut Hill, the assistant captaincy added luster to her senior season, undoubtedly a fitting tribute to her Eagles career. Proud to take on the added responsibility, it was an opportunity for Capizzano to bridge generations. Working with the younger players, including a freshman class of eight players, showing a positive example as a leader was more than just a labor of love. It was a reciprocal experience, as she found great reward in the efforts of the freshmen and sophomores, making key contributions towards such a successful season,
“Being an assistant captain this year was an honor and a humbling experience. I believe working together with both Andie Anastos and Megan Keller, who were also a part of the leadership team, made it fun to be a part of. The younger players were great and working with them was a fun experience. I believe they really looked up to the upperclassmen group that we had this year and I think this contributed a great amount of success to our team this year as a whole.”
In four fantastic seasons which saw the Eagles capture four straight regular season conference crowns, undoubtedly, the greatest in Capizzano’s career was her junior season in 2015-16. Skating in a career-best 41 games, it was the only season where she did not reach double digits in goals. Although she achieved the milestone of her first shorthanded goal, her playmaking skills shone even brighter, recording a sparkling career-best 21 assists. Taking into account that it was also her second consecutive season of just four penalty minutes, it was testament to her sportsmanship and highly disciplined play.
Of all the elements that made it such a memorable season, there was one that stands as quite possibly Capizzano’s greatest legacy. Part of the greatest team not just in Eagles lore, but in Hockey East history, 2015-16 represented only the second time in the history of NCAA women’s ice hockey that a team experienced an undefeated regular season.
Such a time of dominance was highlighted by being part of a bigger, much richer narrative. It was one that saw the Eagles assemble an unbeaten streak on home ice of 63 games, which began after an October 16, 2013 home loss and lasted until February 11, 2017.
“My junior year was a very special year and will be one that I will never forget. It was great to be a part of such a cohesive and driven group, whether this is by challenging one another in practice or competing together to win a game. That was a year I will never forget due to the amount of camaraderie we had, from the coaches all the way to the players. It was something that was special and unforgettable to be a part of.”
With the strong momentum of an outstanding junior season, it allowed for another milestone in Capizzano’s career. Gaining the opportunity to skate with Canada’s U22-Development Team in a gold medal effort at the 2015 Nations Cup, she returned to the program during the summer of 2016. It allowed for an opportunity to add to her international experiences, which is highlighted by her time as Canada’s captain in a gold medal winning effort at the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
Named to Team White U22 during the U22-Development Team’s training camp, Capizzano’s summer with Hockey Canada would result in a series of unique contests. Among them included the chance to skate against the Swedish national women’s team in an exhibition game which was hosted in Calgary. Along with Eve-Audrey Picard, who recently completed her freshman season with the Vermont Catamounts, the two would record assists on a first period goal scored by Emily Clark, as Team White U22 defeated Sweden in a hotly contested 4-3 final.
Gaining a roster spot for a three-game August series versus the United States U-22 national team, it was a hallmark that helped bring Capizzano’s proud Hockey Canada career full circle. The Hockey Canada connection took on an even greater meaning as Capizzano prepared for her senior season with the Eagles. Joining the coaching staff in the autumn of 2016 was three-time Winter Games gold medalist Gillian Apps, whose acumen for the game makes her a valued acquisition for the program.
Statistically, it was a solid senior season that solidified Capizzano as one of the program’s finest players over the last four seasons, while bringing her career to a fanciful finish. Reaching career highs for most goals scored in one season, Capizzano also matched career highs for power play goals and game-winning goals, respectively.
Starting with an assist in an October 29 match against the Connecticut Huskies, Capizzano assembled a nifty seven-game scoring streak. Culmniating on November 26, the second of back-to-back away games versus the archrival Northeastern Huskies, she logged five goals and four assists, as the Eagles managed a sparkling 5-1-1 record.
The first match of the New Year would see Capizzano set the tone with a superlative and historic start. Registering the first hat trick of her career, which took place on home ice against the Syracuse Orange, it represented her finest offensive output of the season. Fittingly, she also logged the game winning tally in a 4-3 final, as Abbey Miller and Ady Cohen were the goalies for the Orange in this landmark game.
Worth noting, the hat trick signified the fourth multi-point performance of Capizzano’s senior season. The fifth and final such effort would also take place in the same month, as a January 25 tilt with Merrimack resulted in a shorthanded goal and a career-high single game plus/minus rating of +4. Not only did she score the first goal of the game, she would log the assist on the game-winning tally by Megan Keller in the 4-1 win.
Before the regular season would expire, there was another momentous milestone that added to the feeling of achievement in Capizzano’s proud career. A February 19, 2017 match against the Providence Friars resulted in an assist on freshman Caitrin Lonergan’s first goal of the game, which allowed her to become the sixteenth player in program history to reach the century mark in career points.
As the match also signified Senior Night, it allowed Capizzano to wind down her career in storybook fashion. Adding to such jubilation was the fact that she would be the third Eagles player this season to attain 100 career points, joining Megan Keller and Kenzie Kent, who also reached the treasured milestone in February 2017.
Part of a senior class that also included team captain Andie Anastos, who would also register an assist on senior night, plus forward Haley McLean (like Anastos, is also from Michigan), it was a night filled with emotion, that saw the Eagles prevail by a 3-1 mark against Providence. With Lonergan, a Hockey East All-Rookie Team, registering the first two-goal game of her career on Senior Night, it also signified an emotional passing of the torch,
“Emotions heading into senior night were definitely bittersweet. Having the opportunity to play 4 years at an awesome school has been an experience in itself. Senior night was a special moment as I had the support from my family, peers, and friends and of course my teammates.”
Of note, the final points in her Eagles career would take place during the postseason. Registering an assist on a goal scored by Kali Flanagan in the Hockey East championship game, it was part of a victory against Beantown rival Northeastern. Following it up in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, she scored the last goal of her career. Providing the Eagles a 2-goal advantage with her second period goal, that feeling of passing the torch took on even greater meaning as it was freshmen Lonergan and Delaney Belinskas who gained the assists on said goal, contributing towards a 6-0 blanking against the St. Lawrence Saints from the ECAC, resulting in the Eagles qualified for their seventh Frozen Four.
Skating against the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Frozen Four, the Eagles were unable to return to the national championship game, suffering a hard-fought 1-0 loss that saw Patty Kazamier Award winner Ann-Renee Desbiens stop 22 Eagles shots. The game also allowed Capizzano to take to the ice against a former teammate. Having also skated for Team Ontario Red at the Canadian U18 women’s nationals, where she won a gold in 2011 and a bronze in 2012, Wisconsin’s Sarah Nurse was her teammate on the 2012 edition of the team. Capizzano and Nurse would both score goals in the bronze medal game, signifying future heroics to come.
Despite this setback, a group of young stars headlined by Lonergan, complemented by a Class of 2021 that includes Cayla Barnes and Daryl Watts, plus a solid coaching staff spearheaded by King-Crowley, it ensures that the future shall include frequent returns to such a grand stage. For Capizzano, who has been part of three Frozen Four teams (2015-17) and two Hockey East postseason titles (2016, 17) as a member of the Eagles, the chance to bring her career to its climax by skating in one of the most important tournaments in women’s ice hockey brought with it a feeling of relevance, signifying her legacy in Eagles circles, while finding a sense of fulfillment in a season that was supposed to be one of rebuilding.
“The Frozen Four is something that has always been a long-term goal for our team each year. Travelling to St. Louis, Missouri this past Frozen Four was a special trip and experience. This was an accomplishment our team had been working for all year and was happy with how we dealt with the adversity we were faced with.
I think with the group we had this year; we were able to show this through that semi-final game vs. Wisconsin. Despite the loss, that was a game I will never forget. The amount of passion and pride we played with in that game was indescribable and I will never forget the fight we put up with the special group we had.”
As Capizzano prepares for the next chapter, there is no question that the Eagles were definitely much better over the last four seasons for having had a player of her caliber don their colors. Undoubtedly, her career gained a tremendous gleam gaining the chance to don the Eagles maroon and gold colors. Although there are so many aspects that made Eagles hockey so enjoyable in Capizzano’s sporting odyssey one that she will treasure for a lifetime, the acquaintances brought with it the most insightful features. Such reflection represents a vital element in a formative time for Capizzano, solidifying her role as the kind of player that any team would be grateful to have on its roster,
“It is hard to pin point one thing that I will miss most about Boston College but I believe the friendships I have made are something that I can never replace. The journey that I have taken part in the last four years has been special and I have been able to learn so much from others to help me become and grow into the person I am today.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Thomas Higgins – Hockey Canada Images, With Sam Reinhart and Greg Westlake by Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun, USCHO Photoshelter – Melissa Wade, Richard T. Gagnon – Getty Images, BC Eagles athletics