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Eagles ready to take flight

BC prepares for No. 1 Wisconsin

BC’s Kelli Stack is a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented to the top women’s player in Division 1. BC’s Kelli Stack is a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented to the top women’s player in Division 1. (Greg Wohlford/Associated Press)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / March 18, 2011

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ERIE, Pa. — The Boston College women’s hockey team had some company on their charter flight from Boston for the NCAA Frozen Four.

Boston University punched its ticket with a quarterfinal win against Mercyhurst and Wednesday boarded the same flight to Erie. Not much was said between the teams who were separated by a few rows. After all, if everything goes their way tonight, they will be competitors Sunday.

“We sat in the back of the plane, and they sat in the front,’’ said BC forward Kelli Stack. “There was probably about seven or eight rows of seats in between us. There was no talking. We looked at them when they got on and they looked at us in the back and that was pretty much all the interaction that you saw.’’

The unique arrangement was likely an economical decision, said BC coach Katie King. The travel didn’t overshadow the experience for teams vying to become the first Hockey East representatives to reach the championship game since the tournament began in 2000-01.

No. 4 BC (24-6-6) will face top-seeded Wisconsin (35-2-2) in the first semifinal at 5 tonight at Tullio Arena. The second semifinal will follow between No. 2 Cornell (31-2-1) and No. 3 BU (26-6-4).

Although this is the first trip to the semifinals for BU, it’s the second appearance in five seasons for the Eagles. BC earned its semifinal berth with a 4-1 win over Minnesota six days ago. The Eagles’ last trip to the Frozen Four ended in a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Minnesota-Duluth in 2007.

BC enters this season’s semifinals with a six-game unbeaten streak and its first Hockey East Tournament title. Stack is a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented to the top women’s player in Division 1. After collecting 36 goals and helping BC average 2.89 goals a game, Stack was selected the 2011 Hockey East tournament MVP. She was last season’s league Player of the Year.

BC is allowing 1.69 goals a game, third in the country. Goaltender Molly Schaus has posted a 1.40 goals-against average in her senior season.

With all the success this season, Stack said facing the top team will not change BC’s approach. The Eagles have lost all three meetings with Wisconsin since 2000.

“I don’t feel like we’re an underdog,’’ Stack said. “I think people see us that way because we’re the fourth seed and we’re from the Hockey East. I think our team is pretty confident and we’re prepared for the game [tonight]. We know what we have to do to compete.’’

Yesterday the teams took to the ice for the first time in the arena that holds 5,524. It is the first time the event is being held in Pennsylvania. There are some adjustments in playing on neutral ice, but the arena has what Stack described as a “homey’’ feel.

While the Eagles were becoming familiar with the Tullio Arena, King said a few other teams will become more familiar with the Hockey East.

“We don’t play a lot of the WCHA teams,’’ King said. “I think a lot of teams don’t know what our team is all about. I think our kids are ready to go. We’re confident in what we have as a team and what we’ll bring to the game.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.