Oct. 7, 2011
Chestnut Hill, Mass. -The No. 5 Boston College women's ice hockey team begins the 2011-12 season on Saturday, Oct. 8, at No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:07 p.m. local time (4:07 p.m. EST). The two-game series concludes on Sunday, Oct. 9, with the same start time.
The Eagles are coming off the best season in program history and have been tabbed with their highest preseason ranking since the team's inception. Seventeen letter-winners return from the 2010-11 squad that captured the Beanpot and Hockey East Tournament titles en route to setting a school record for wins and reaching the NCAA Frozen Four.
In the only three meetings, BC has not beaten UMD. Minnesota-Duluth defeated Boston College in both matches of the two-game series in Kelley Rink in 2009 and escaped the Eagles, 4-3, in double-overtime of the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four to earn a slot in the national championship.
The Eagles are 3-1 in season openers since Head Coach Katie King Crowley assumed the reigns of the program. Since 1993-94, Boston College is 9-8 on opening day.
The Bulldogs have lost only once in their season opening skate. UMD is 11-1 overall and is 9-1 when opening at home.
Scouting the Eagles
Four of Boston College's top five point scorers return for the Eagle offense: Hockey East All-Star and senior captain Mary Restuccia, senior captain Danielle Welch, sophomore Melissa Bizzari and second-year forward Taylor Wasylk.
Restuccia is the lead, returning point-getter with 39 points on team-high 28 assists, a season ago. Welch totaled a career-high 25 points (10G-15A), with Wasylk posting 24 points (15G-9A) and Bizzari charting 22 tallies (11G-11A).
Junior Blake Bolden
, who netted eight goals and 19 points last season, leads a defense that ranked fifth in the nation for goals allowed per game (1.70) and seventh in penalty killing percentage (.844). Other returning veteran's that will protect BC's defensive third are seniors Jessica Martino
, Kristin Regan
and Alison Szolsek, junior Dru Burns
and sophomore Meagan Mangene
Goaltenders Corinne Boyles and Kiera Kingston are in the mix for the starting nod. Boyles redshirted last season, after turning in a save percentage of .907 in 1,367 minutes, a goals against average of 2.90 and a 5-10-7 record in 2009-10. Kingston saw limited time last season, but has stopped 516 shots (.908 pct.) in 1,178 minutes and averaged 2.65 goals against in three seasons at the Heights.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Duluth returns top five units on both ends of the ice. The Bulldog's second-ranked defense limited opponents to 1.62 goals per contest, while the offense was rated at fourth with an average of 3.88 goals per game last season.
Senior Haley Irwin led all returning UMD players with 48 points (18G-30A) in 2010-11, but missed the scrimmage with the Minnesota White Caps on Saturday due to injury. Sophomore and second returning point-getter Jessica Wong (15G-23A) also missed the matchup. The duo were second team WCHA selections last season.
Audrey Cournoyer, Katie Wilson and Jenna McParland split the pipes in the scrimmages. As sophomores, Cournoyer recorded 26 points (15G-11A), while Wilson totaled 23 points (8G-15A).
Duluth lost All-American defenseman Jocelyne Larocque and Tara Gray to graduation, but return 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist (Finland) Mariia Posa, Wong and several other members of their defensive unit.
Jennifer Harss and senior Lana Steck split time in goal against the White Caps. Harss owns a career save percentage of .934 and 1.97 goals against average in 3,228 minutes. Steck has seen just 317 minutes of ice time, allowed eight goals and made 103 saves.
Crowley enters her fifth season at the helm of the program. The winningest coach in Eagles history begins the year with an overall mark of 68-45-28 (43-29-14 Hockey East). Crowley led her squad to a 7-3-0 mark against nationally ranked teams last season. During her tenure, BC's only win against the WCHA came in a 4-1 defeat of Minnesota at the 2010-11 NCAA Quarterfinal.
Minnesota-Duluth Head Coach Shannon Miller kicks off her 13th campaign with the Bulldogs. Miller owns the highest active winning percentage (.760) among NCAA Division I coaches, having gone 313-87-34. UMD went 6-8-2 against the country's top 10 teams in 2010-11. The Bulldogs are 15-2 all-time against the Hockey East.
The Last Time
In the 2009 series, the unranked Eagles were topped by No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth, 3-0 and 5-1, in Kelley Rink.
In game one: the Bulldogs got the scoring started off early in the contest, notching the first tally less than a minute into the opening frame. UMD would score again late in the second period and notch another goal with just over two minutes remaining in the third. BC goalie Kiera Kingston stopped 23 of the 26 shots she faced on the day. Kingston made some remarkable stops to keep the Eagles in the match when UMD found breakaway opportunities. The Bulldogs finished the game with a 26-22 edge in shots over the Eagles.
In game two: the two teams kept a steady hold on one another through the first half of the period, before UMD was able to sneak three goals past BC keeper, freshman Corinne Boyles, just over seven minutes. Minnesota-Duluth added another tally early in the second period to make the score 4-0 in favor of the Bulldogs. The Eagles showed some signs of life just over a minute later, when senior Allie Thunstrom knocked home a shot off an assist from freshman Kristina Brown to give BC its first goal of the day. UMD would score one more tally in the third period to set the match at 5-1 for the Bulldogs. Boyles made 27 saves for the Eagles on the afternoon. Minnesota-Duluth was able to outshoot BC 32-25 during the game.