Luke DeCock

Hockey title hopes dashed, but Cary’s Grieves still a Triangle trendsetter

Boston College's Meghan Grieves (17) tries to get past Minnesota's Brook Garzone (18) and Sydney Baldwin during the first period of the women's Frozen Four championship college hockey game in Durham, N.H. Sunday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston College's Meghan Grieves (17) tries to get past Minnesota's Brook Garzone (18) and Sydney Baldwin during the first period of the women's Frozen Four championship college hockey game in Durham, N.H. Sunday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) AP

It isn’t easy for Meghan Grieves to talk about, because it’s all still a little fresh. Her Boston College hockey career came to an end after four productive years Sunday when the No. 1-ranked and previously undefeated Eagles lost to Minnesota in the national championship.

“I’m kind of still a little beat up about the loss, a little bit at a loss for words still,” Grieves said Monday. “In retrospect, it’s been such an incredible season, so at the same time I still feel proud.”

Grieves, a Cary native who was the Eagles’ sixth-leading goal-scorer with 11 goals this season, still completes her Boston College career as one of the Triangle’s most distinguished women’s players.

Raleigh’s Alyssa Gagliardi, who played at Cornell and has made three appearances for the U.S. Women’s National Team in various tournaments, tops that list. She’s now playing for the Boston Pride of the new National Women’s Hockey League.

But Grieves isn’t far behind, a trailblazer in her own right – the first female player for the Junior Hurricanes in the Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament (in 2007). Since then, three more have, including Quinnipiac freshman Mackenzie Lancaster and Linda Essery, who is committed to Yale in 2017.

They’re part of a small but growing group of Division I women’s players from the Triangle that also includes Cary’s Colleen Murphy, who graduated from Northeastern last year, and her sister Katherine, a sophomore at Robert Morris. Raleigh’s Erin Barley-Maloney played at Vermont and Cornell and briefly for the New York Riveters of the NWHL.

None of them came as close to a national championship as Grieves, who had five points in seven postseason games for Boston College.

It has been a tough year for Boston College in the ACC, with football and men’s basketball combining for an unprecedented 0-27 record in league play, but the Eagles had no such problems in Hockey East. The fifth-ranked men, at 26-7-5, are the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Regional for the 16-team NCAA.

The women topped that, spending the final three months of the season at No. 1, winning the conference tournament and going into Sunday’s title game in Durham, N.H., with an unblemished 40-0-0 record, only to lose 3-1 to Minnesota as the Gophers won their fourth title in five years.

It wasn’t an easy road getting there. Grieves eventually had to leave home to attend Indiana’s Culver Academy – alma mater of former Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles – which led to several Division I scholarship offers. But Boston College was always No. 1 on her list, even if her teammates and classmates may never have understood just how hard it was to get there from Cary.

“Hockey’s such a big part of Boston, such a big part of the culture here,” Grieves said. “Everybody’s a hockey fan. I’m not sure people know the sacrifices, the hours spent in the car up and down the East Coast just to play games, the amount of travel just to find ice time. It’s not something people realize.”

It was all worth it. Grieves ended up playing in 152 games at forward for Boston College, as her point total climbed from eight as a freshman and one as a sophomore to 12 as a junior and 24 as a senior, including a six-game point streak to open the season.

“When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a Boston College women’s ice hockey player,” Grieves said. “As a girl from North Carolina, that wasn’t something a lot of people thought would be possible.”

It didn’t end the way Grieves wanted it to end, and that part’s still hard to talk about. The rest of it? She wouldn’t change a thing.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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