Last March, Michaela Boyle led Robert Morris to the College Hockey America championship and an NCAA tournament with Northeastern. Eleven months later, she took to the ice again against the Huskies, this time in the Beanpot for Boston College.
It wasn’t a situation the Reading native could have imagined, but after her Robert Morris squad was suddenly and unexpectedly scrapped just two months after appearing in the NCAA Tournament, she found a place at Chestnut Hill.
RMU announced that it was closing the men’s and women’s hockey programs to align with sports offerings from competing institutions. It came as player movement reached a level never seen before in college hockey as the NCAA granted an additional year of athlete eligibility due to the pandemic. If they wanted to continue their playing careers, Boyle and her teammates had to act fast.
“There certainly wasn’t much time to dwell on the situation at Robert Morris because the next step was figuring out where to go next,” Boyle said. “The process was difficult because I was dealing with the loss of the program that I felt, but I also had to find the next step in my journey.”
Boyle had already been transferred once, from a stacked roster from Clarkson to Robert Morris after her freshman year. If she had to change schools again, she decided to try closer to home.
BC is not only a shorter drive, but has a roster full of familiar faces Boyle has played youth hockey with, as the current Eagles roster has 15 local players. The little extra: next year, it will also include Cayla BarnesBoyle’s best friend who currently plays for the US Olympic team.
“It seemed like a no-brainer,” Boyle said. “Being close to home, playing with the kids I grew up with and next year having my best friend here in BC. It was all I wanted.
Boyle stayed at Robert Morris through the fall semester to complete her bachelor’s degree, and joined the Eagles in January and began graduate school. His arrival coincides with British Columbia’s remarkable turnaround. After starting the season 10-11, they improved to 19-12 and won nine of their last 10 games. Boyle scored his first goal as an Eagle against New Hampshire on February 4.
“Obviously I wasn’t there for the first half to go through the ups and downs that they had to go through,” Boyle said. “But just to see everyone’s hard work start to pay off, it seems like things are happening at the right time.”
The turnaround was one of the highlights of Boyle’s first half with the Eagles, but another was the Beanpot. Boyle grew up watching the male and female Beanpot, thanks to his father by Mike working as a renowned hockey coach. In February, he finally got to see his daughter take the ice cream for one.
“It was like a childhood dream that I never really thought I’d get the chance to fulfill,” Boyle said. “Growing up, when my dad was working at Boston University, I was at almost every Beanpot game. Being able to dress up for myself was a really special moment.
fight for a position
Hockey East’s new women’s hockey playoff format made the final weekend of the regular season hugely meaningful.
Heading into this weekend, only three of the league’s 10 teams have their seeds set in stone: seeded and defending champion Northeastern, and seeds No. 9 and No. 10 Merrimack and Holy Cross.
The top six seeds get a bye to the quarter-finals, while the bottom four seeds have a quick turnaround before the round opens on Wednesday. While these bottom two seeds are set in stone, it is the seventh seed that is the most fluid. If Boston University loses its weekend home-and-away series to Providence and Maine wins its series to New Hampshire, the Terriers could drop to seventh. However, any other combination will see BU fifth or sixth. Last year’s runner-up Providence has the widest possible range of finishes, where a variety of scenarios could find them ranked fifth through eighth.
B.C.’s soaring run can end up anywhere between second and fourth. However, their fate is partly in the hands of the Eagles’ weekend opponent, Vermont. The Catamounts are on a historic run for the program, having won nine straight before a loss to BU last Friday. Vermont travels to British Columbia on Friday and Saturday.
UConn, which plays Northeastern this weekend, is also in contention for the second seed and has been hovering near the national standings for the past few weeks. BC, Vermont and UConn all have the luxury of knowing no matter what happens, they can at least avoid the quick turnaround for the midweek opening round.