Opinions, Women's Hockey

Callie Shanahan begins ‘comeback tour’ in 27-save Beanpot semifinal performance

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

At the top of her crease, Callie Shanahan tracked the puck, poke-checked it and the game was over. 

The Boston University women’s hockey team would advance to the 2024 Beanpot Championship at TD Garden thanks to a 4-3 shootout win over Boston College Tuesday evening. 

While the victory marks a few things – how far the Terriers have come since head coach Tara Watchorn’s entrance at the beginning of the season, their first appearance in the title matchup since 2019-20, and taking down a cross-town rival – Shanahan’s 27-save performance is the redemption arc that added a layer of meaning to the feat. 

The junior goaltender missed the entirety of first semester due to a knee injury, and made her 2023-24 debut Friday against the University of New Hampshire.

“It really shows that adversity, there’s another side to it. Hard work pays off and this is just the beginning,” Shanahan said postgame Tuesday. 

“I had a lot of ups and downs through the recovery process and it was tough mentally. Just having my teammates there for my back, their belief in me, has really helped me gain confidence going into this game.” 

The Beanpot semifinal was just Shanahan’s second game back, but she was the woman for the job. The Terriers put together one of their most complete, tenacious showings in front of Shanahan to take down the Eagles, and were backstopped by some timely saves the entire competition. 

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

“I think not a lot of people can see the comeback tour and how much effort she has put in behind the scenes,” Watchorn said postgame Tuesday. “But I think that was a huge testament as well – knowing that she’s left no stone unturned, she’s done everything that she can within her ability to be ready for this group.” 

BU had to – and did – kill off four penalties including a five-minute major and back-to-back minors in the third period while protecting its then 3-2 lead. Shanahan remained poised while acting as the anchor on the penalty kill. 

“I think she built confidence as the game went on when you need those saves the most. It was really cool just to see her in her element,” Watchorn said.

In overtime, the Terriers were caught on a long shift and, in turn, the Eagles closed in on Shanahan’s net for 40 seconds and got off six shots. One hit the post, one went wide, Catherine Foulem blocked another and Shanahan made two down-low, clutch stops to force a shootout. 

“Overtime was crazy for sure, lots of chaos,” Shanahan said. “I just tried to keep calm. There’s a lot of outside noise going on and a lot of people and I just tried to stay in my own zone and block it all out.” 

Shanahan denied every Boston College attempt in the three-round shootout. The Eagles put out their top line as the shooters – Caroline Goffredo, Sammy Taber and Sammy Smigliani. The group has combined for 26 goals this season as the top-three leading scorers on the BC roster, but couldn’t find a way around a dialed-in Shanahan. 

As Smigliani’s third-round shot was whacked away, Shanahan peered over at the BU bench before her teammates flooded the ice.

“I was kind of making sure that was the last one and I could celebrate,” Shanahan said. “I was just so ready to celebrate and I was so excited.” 

The Terriers now have the opportunity to bring the Beanpot back to Comm Ave next Tuesday when they take on the defending champions, Northeastern University, in the title game at TD Garden. 

“Huge team win, I literally couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Shanahan said. “It’s been a long road for me – recovering from injury – so this really meant a lot.”

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