Frozen Fenway: Boston College defeats Harvard 3-1 in rain-filled women’s hockey spectacle

Kriby Paulson and Kirby Paulson

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Photo: Kirby Paulson

Photo: Kirby Paulson

BOSTON – With the lights on at Fenway Park and a steady rain falling prior to the game, one might imagine a tarp rolled out upon the infield and a rain delay in effect. Tuesday night was a different story as Boston College  and Harvard faced off in a women’s hockey Frozen Fenway matchup on the park’s special event ice surface.

In what turned out to be quite the precipitation filled affair, freshman defenseman Erin Connolly tallied two goals in the Eagles’ 3-1 victory over the Crimson. Connolly, a native of South Boston, reflected on the experience and highlighted the fact of having family in the stands of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

“It was really awesome,” Connolly said. “I mean my whole family was able to come out and I think that just knowing that they were here and being able to score two goals it was awesome for not just the team but for them too.

While Connolly and the Eagles(14-3-4, 10-2-2 WHEA) would end up skating off the water-laden ice the victors, the scoring success was at a premium in the opening period.

Both teams headed to their locker rooms without registering a goal very much in part to a strong Boston College penalty kill and a good performance from Harvard goaltender Brianna Laing who made 10 saves in the frame. Her sister, junior forward Lexie Laing, had an opportunity to put the Crimson(1-11-2, 1-6-2 ECAC) up past the midway point of the first period when a rebound found its way to her stick. Laing made an effort, but sent the puck up and over Eagles goaltender Katie Burt.

Burt, who made 22 saves in the effort, battled wet conditions throughout the game and at times was seen clearing fairly significant amounts of water from her respective net area. Boston College head coach Katie Crowley was quite happy with her goalie’s performance in the outdoor game.

“I thought she was phenomenal,” Crowley said. “She came up with some huge saves that I thought really helped our offense and helped our players go the other way. She had breakaways, she had two on ohs, she had all sorts of things thrown at her; it was too bad, I kind of felt bad for her that they scored that one because I thought that she deserved to have a shutout in that game, I thought she was awesome.”

Katie Crowley and Erin Connolly address the media following Boston College's 3-1 victory. (Photo: Kirby Paulson)

Katie Crowley and Erin Connolly address the media following Boston College’s 3-1 victory. (Photo: Kirby Paulson)

Burt wasn’t the only one who had to fight the weather, as the accumulating moisture turned simple puck battles and icing races into seemingly more complex efforts. Harvard head coach Katey Stone spoke of the importance of simplifying the game in the face of staying focused when conditions began to further deteriorate.

“The biggest part of managing situations like that is just to really simplify your game as best you can and I think for the most part our kids did a really good job of that tonight,” Stone said.

The scoring floodgates as well as the skies opened in the second period as Boston College was able to find the back of the net twice before the end of the stanza. Just prior to the midway point of the period, the Eagles picked up a turnover in the Crimson’s defensive zone. Andie Anastos moved into the face-off circle to the left of the goaltender and dropped a pass to Bridget McCarthy who received it and drilled a shot past Laing for her second of the season.

Later in that same period, Lexie Laing was sent to the box on a hooking penalty. During the ensuing power play, Anastos was able up her second assist of the game feeding a pass to Connolly in front of the net who lifted it up and into the Harvard net to make it a 2-0 game.

The second period concluded without any more successful scoring plays and a more intense rainfall. Almost thirteen minutes into the final frame, Connolly skated into the attacking zone with the puck on her stick and with open space blasted one from the face-off circle to the left of the goaltender. The puck flew by Laing and found the back of the net for Connolly’s second of the game.

Connolly provided a walkthrough of her thought process in deciding to take a shot instead of passing to another player for a different opportunity.

“I got it at the red (line) and there was only one Harvard (defender) so I was like ‘I’m not going to dump it,’” Connolly said. “I just skated it in and then I was going to pass it, and I was like ‘there’s a big chance that I’m not going to get that puck over and it’s not going to be where I want it to be,’ so that’s just when I decided to shoot it.”

Late in the third period with just over five minutes remaining, Harvard was finally able to tally a point on the scoreboard when Kat Hughes poked a puck home. However, the late effort was not enough as the final buzzer signaled a Boston College victory just a few minutes later.

Though the Crimson were not victorious, Marblehead, Massachusetts native Lexie Laing was able to express how special the experience was for her.

“Especially coming from Boston, it’s like one of those things that’s on your bucket list that you want to do; you hear about Frozen Fenway every single year, it’s just something that’s on your bucket list and I was thinking during the game I was like even playing in the rain, like that’s something on your bucket list but it’s not on there until you experience it,” Laing said.

Boston College will gear up for a home-and-home series this weekend with conference opponent Merrimack College while will play at home with matchups against Rensselaer and Union.