Boston College seeking elusive NCAA women’s hockey title

Coach Katie Crowley has been part of the Boston College women’s hockey program since 2003.  She joined the Eagles as an assistant coach while still competing with the U.S. women’s national team.

These days, she has led the Eagles to seven consecutive NCAA appearances and three consecutive Frozen Four appearances. Every year, BC becomes more of a name in women’s hockey, but it remains without a national title.

Could this be the season the Eagles take it all the way?

Coaching staff

Leadership and culture are keys to a successful program.  When looking at resumes, BC has that.

Crowley was a member of the women’s national team from 1997 to 2006. She competed in the first three Olympic Games for women’s ice hockey and helped the U.S. win its first IIHF World Championship gold medal in 2005. Her 14 career Olympic goals are tied with Natalie Darwitz for most overall in Team USA history.

Associate head coach Courtney Kennedy joined the Eagles in 2007 for Crowley’s first season as head coach. The Woburn, Mass., native was teammates with Crowley on the 2002 and 2006 U.S. Olympic teams. The defender also won gold at the 2005 World Championships. In three years at the University of Minnesota, Kennedy posted 112 points on 35 goals and 77 assists in 106 games. She is ranked  fourth among defenders for career goals, fifth in career assists and sixth in career points.

Alison Quandt Westgate joined the Eagles in 2003 as assistant coach and goalie specialist.  She returned to her alma mater  as the record-holder in career wins (28) and goals-against average (2.83) and tied for the most career shutouts (6). In her final season at BC, she held the record for lowest single-season goals-against average (2.17).

Westgate and the rest of the BC coaching staff have since coached the players who currently hold those records.

Better over time

The core coaching staff enters its 11th season together. Over that time, BC women’s hockey has posted a 248-80-44 overall record and has produced some of the greatest players over the past decade at all positions. That is a credit to the eye Crowley, Kennedy and Westgate have for recruiting, as well as their ability to develop talent.

Since 2007, the program graduated its first of 11 Patty Kazmaier Top 10 finalists (seven different players), its first Patty Kazmaier winner (Alex Carpenter, 2015), all six All-Americans in Eagles history and three Olympians, with more likely to come this winter.

Crowley has led her teams to every single title in program history — five regular-season titles and three Hockey East titles.  At this rate, it is not if but when BC will win its first national title.  The team made its first NCAA Finals appearance in 2016.  The Eagles were a perfect 40-0 heading into the final before falling 3-1 to Minnesota.

2017-18 season

The Eagles look to make a fourth consecutive Frozen Four, but will do so without a few key players. Megan Keller and Kali Flanagan will delay their final season in hopes of earning a spot on the 2018 Olympic team. The Eagles graduated Haley McLean and captains Kristyn Capizzano and Andie Anastos.

The Eagles will look to seniors Katie Burt and Kenzie Kent to lead on and off the ice . Burt enters her final season with program bests in wins (91), shutouts (31) and goals-against average (1.30). She also ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA in each category. Kent enters the seasons with 31 goals and 76 assists for BC. Both have been drafted by the Boston Pride of the NWHL.

Joining the seniors are four freshman Crowley expects will make an immediate impact. Defender Cayla Barnes made her debut with the senior national team in December and was named to the 42-player rosters selection camp in the spring. Willow Corson is a 5-foot-9 forward from Toronto with a 2016 Under-18 Canada Women’s National Championship title to her name.

Daryl Watts and Maegan Beres both competed for the Canadian U-18 team  at the 2017 IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championships. Watts won her second silver medal at this year’s U-18 World Championship and has participated in camps for the Canadian senior national team.

The mix of solid recruiting and player development make Boston a team to watch again for the 2017-18 season.  The Eagles return to the ice on Sept. 22 against the Laurentian Voyagers of Ontario.  BC will face Minnesota-Duluth twice and Quinnipiac once before entering conference play Oct. 20 against UConn.

Several college programs, including Boston, will lose key players to the Olympics. However, college hockey goes on and Boston College looks in good shape to make another strong run.


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