Well, the season has come to a close, and the last month or so has been quite the journey for my team, so I will try to recap it as best as I can, starting from where I left off. We won our first Hockey East tournament title ever in a 3-1 battle against the always-tough Northeastern Huskies. When the game was over we stood outside the rink watching the NESN camera crews and TV trucks pack up before BC police escorted us back to campus – for those of you familiar with Boston, the trip down Comm. Ave is much quicker when a police cruiser guides you.
Once back at school, we had a little bit of time to kill before gathering together to watch the NCAA selection show. For the first time in program history we had secured an auto-bid into the tourney and it wasn’t a question of whether we would continue our season or not, but rather who we were playing and where. More good news and program firsts were on the way – we were announced as the #4 seed, slated to host the Minnesota Gophers in the first round. Pandemonium and screaming broke out in Conte Forum as we celebrated our program’s first time hosting an NCAA tournament game; our excitement could not be contained.
Our team at BC this year is one of the most unique that I have been on. We function at our best when everyone is loose, relaxed, and having fun. During the week heading into quarterfinals, it would only be natural for the level of nervousness to increase, but we continued to not only work hard, but also have fun during our practices. Although we were the higher ranked team, people outside of our program seemed to think that we were some sort of underdog heading into the tournament. However, we relished the opportunity to really band together and show everyone just how good we can be. At BC, we are fortunate enough to have a close and supportive relationship with the men’s hockey program (for example, the coaches and athletic trainer of the men’s team, including some of their children, and many of the players were at our HE championship game, even though it was on the road). Head Coach Jerry York was kind enough to come to our locker room to offer his congratulations and well wishes, but also some advice as we prepared for the games to come.
Once it was finally game day against Minnesota, we headed into the game feeling confident and prepared. Drawing from the support of the most dedicated women’s hockey fans around, who had rallied up a respectable student section despite our being on spring break, and our faithful supporters, we jumped out to an early lead, heading into the locker room after one period with a 4-0 lead. The Gophers did not go down without a fight, but we continued to play our game and push until the final whistle. When the buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 4-1, and the excitement for our team’s second trip ever to the Frozen Four (first for everyone on the team except 3 players), was uncontainable!
In the week leading up to the trip to Erie, we again kept the focus on maintaining our high compete level but having fun and enjoying our time together. The walls in our locker room were overflowing with e-mails from alumni, family, and friends of the BC hockey program offering praise and well wishes for our team. That support continued all the way to Erie. We departed campus with members of the BC community seeing the bus off, and another police escort that took us all the way to the private Air Force Base where we interestingly enough, shared a charter plane with the BU team as well as their band. Our band met us in Erie shortly after. We soaked in every moment of the experience, but our trip to the rink for our game against Wisconsin is something I will never forget.
As we left the hotel, our path to the bus was lined on both sides with members of the BC Pep Band, who played and sang our school song as we boarded the bus and headed to Tullio Arena. Also, Richy Schwalm, our biggest Superfan, and his family, whose loyalty and support brought them all the way to Erie to cheer us on, were in the lobby to see us off to the rink. We thought it couldn’t get any better, but as our bus rounded the corner to the rink, we were greeted by a sea of maroon and gold. A surprise “pep rally” headed up by our families and friends had taken over the parking lot. Nearly two and a half hours before game time, the horde of people had gathered to coordinate face paint, balloons, music, and a Boston College banner, along with plenty of shouts, cheers, and waves that nearly brought tears to my eyes as we walked into the rink. Just knowing that you have that much support heading into the game is a huge burst of energy. When the Wisconsin bus pulled in behind us, there wasn’t a shred of red or white to be found anywhere.
Heading into the game, we were again seen to the outside world as huge underdogs, but true to our attitude all season, we were willing to let our play be our response. Wisconsin is a very tough team to play, and the game was fast-paced, physical, and exciting. Despite yielding a two-goal lead, we never slowed down, and clawed our way back to the tie the game at 2 halfway through the third period. Both teams exchanged chances, and Wisconsin’s go-ahead goal with 48 seconds left was nothing short of a heartbreaker.
We certainly left it all on the ice in the semifinals, and as disappointing as it is to end the season on a loss, we certainly have a lot to be proud of. Our team this year had a lot of fun, and it was our ability to stay relaxed and lighthearted that buoyed us to such a successful season. Dancing and singing in the locker room both before the game and in between periods became a ritual, with even the quietest of the bunch singing their hearts out and busting moves. We were lucky to have four very special seniors that led a team with many young players back to the Frozen Four. Now, our attention turns to preparing for next season, where we hope to continue to improve, and establish BC as a premier women’s hockey program. We have one more week off to rest and recuperate before we start our spring workouts, so for the time being, we are enjoying the free time that comes with being just a regular student for a while.
Photo Credit: Dave Schaus and BC Media