DURHAM, N.H. — Boston College has advanced to the Frozen Four five of the past six years, but the Eagles have never made it past the semifinal round.
Their detractors say that the Eagles don’t know how to handle adversity.
Before Friday’s game, they’d never ended a period trailing.
For the seniors, advancing to the final and playing for a championship is about capping off their career and not ending another season in disappointment. But for the Eagles’ underclassmen, the game doesn’t stop when Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa and their classmates graduate.
The seniors have something to prove. The underclassmen want to build a legacy.
Sophomore and Patty Kazmaier top-10 finalist Megan Keller said it’s about winning it for their seniors – but also for all the players, coaches and personnel that have helped build Boston College into a top-tier program.
This isn’t about one and done or simply winning a national championship, but creating a culture of winning. That means not just winning the games, but taking the lessons of the upperclassmen – on and off the ice.
“We’re all fortunate to learn from them, and our goal is to get one of those stars on the back of our jersey, but they’re passing on more than a star at the end, hopefully — they’ve helped all of our games tremendously,” said freshman forward and Hockey East Rookie of the Year Makenna Newkirk.
They took the first step Friday with a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over Clarkson.
After the game, coach Katie King Crowley said her team knew they were going to win Friday’s semifinal because they refused to lose.
Keller said the team never really doubted.
The confidence that’s carried them through an undefeated season helped them stay focused and not panic when they trailed.
“I mean, we have so much confidence that, you know, when we get behind one, we’re not panicking and when we get behind two, it’s really reassuring to see that no one’s attitude changed, no one was really tight around their stick, really, [and] everyone stepped it up,” said Newkirk.
As the Eagles went down one and then two goals, it seemed to reinforce the idea that Boston College hadn’t been tested all season and wouldn’t know how to respond.
But Newkirk said the criticism wasn’t new and it wasn’t something that affected the players as the game went on.
“We’ve gotten that all year,” Newkirk said. “That’s OK — we just try to stay focused on each game. It definitely fuels us and gives us motivation in these big games.”
Most freshmen get mentored by upperclassmen. They’re taken under the wing and the seniors help the freshman transition to the college game. Few freshmen get the chance to be mentored by arguably the best two-way player in the game. Newkirk not only got to be on a line with Carpenter to start the season, but she said Carpenter would help her before practice, as well.
“Each one of them brings in a different attitude to the team and different perspective,” said Newkirk. “They’re in the top of their game, at the top level, and being able to play with them and see how they approach different situations has definitely opened my eyes.”