Boston College may have won just nine games last season, but those nine were the best output in the young program’s history. Now coach Tom Babson is expecting to make it to the next level. The goal of reaching the Hockey East playoffs by finishing in the league’s top four, he feels, is within reach.
“It’s exciting and the kids feel it,” Babson said. “They’re no longer thinking the self-image, ‘This is BC they haven’t supported us, and we’re the bottom of the barrel.’ They’re ready to compete.”
BC has given its women’s hockey program more support in recent years. Because the Eagles made Title IX-inspired additions to women’s sports before women’s hockey was prominent, the BC women’s hockey program has struggled for recognition. But the team’s scholarships have tripled since three years ago, when Babson earned the head-coaching job, and now the much-anticipated arrival of Hockey East can only improve the image of the team on campus.
The competitive performance of the team on ice hasn’t hurt either. The Eagles scored a 1-0 victory over eventual ECAC East playoff champ Providence and took both ECAC East regular-season titlist Niagara and ECAC North regular-season champion Dartmouth to OT last season.
“Hockey is such a momentum kind of team thing,” Babson said. “If they think they can do it, they can do it. We saw that at Dartmouth. Two years before they were laughing at us, they were just playing with us. They didn’t play with us last year, and they won’t play with us this year.”
Now, Babson expects to win more of those games.
The Eagles’ offense will have to produce without last year’s top two goal-scorers in Kelly McManus and Missy Barsz, but the team returns junior Alaina Clark, who doubled her freshman-year scoring total in one season and is capable of doubling it again. Jaclyn Kryzak, a senior forward, led the team with three-game winning goals last season.
Babson sees depth on his roster, and he plans to play four lines — a far cry from years ago when he could barely field three.
BC assistant captain Gen Richardson is the biggest name on the Eagle roster. Though Richardson doesn’t grab headlines with her scoring prowess, she was talented enough to be named to the U.S. team for the Four Nations Cup. Richardson will lead the defense in front of ECAC East Rookie Goaltender of the Year Lisa Davis, who kept the team in games with her 2.59 GAA average.
“No one’s going to count us out,” Babson said.