She’s not from a hockey town, and not from a hockey state, so Haley Skarupa had to take to the road to get the competition she needed to become an elite hockey player.
The Boston College sophomore grew up in Rockville, Md., a suburban setting outside Washington, and as a youngster, Skarupa played all sorts of sports. She followed her older brother out to the driveway to play roller hockey, then moved to ice hockey after he did. That’s where she decided to stay.
“I think I just chose hockey because it was really different,’’ said Skarupa, who played for the Washington Pride junior women’s team for four years, crisscrossing the continent for league games in nearby New England, as well as far away Calgary and Winnipeg (“miserable and really fun at the same time”).
“No one really played hockey. I thought it was the biggest challenge to me. Not a lot of people could skate and play hockey so if you could do that, I feel like that trumps any other sport.”
Skarupa’s seventh-ranked Eagles (20-5-3) take on streaking Northeastern Tuesday in the women's Beanpot championship at Conte Forum in a repeat of last year’s title game.
BC is 2-0-1 against Northeastern this season but the Huskies (14-12-2) are two-time defending champions and won their seventh straight game Saturday, a 3-1 victory over Providence. BC, meanwhile, was watching its seven-game win streak end in a 2-0 loss to UConn.
The Eagles count on Skarupa, a speedy right wing, for goals; she is their leading scorer with 18 goals and 30 points despite playing in just 24 games after missing four in January with a hip injury.
“The last couple of games I think she’s been playing even better than before the injury,’’ said BC coach Katie King Crowley.
Just 20, Skarupa has collected some major accomplishments. She played for her high school varsity in Rockville as a freshman, getting the unusual opportunity to play alongside her brother, a senior on the team.
“We played on the same team because we didn’t have a women’s team in public school Maryland hockey,’’ Skarupa said.
“It was a lot of fun. We ended up winning states, which was cool. I hadn’t played guys’ hockey for a while so I just jumped right into it and I forgot how physical it was. For me it was a challenge, especially being that young.’’
Skarupa was first invited to a US hockey camp in 2008 and she made the US under-18 squad in 2010. In the next three years, she played in three world championships with the under-18 team, winning a gold medal and two silvers. She led the tournament in scoring (11 goals, no assists) and goals in five games in 2012.
BC was already a familiar spot for the Skarupa family when Haley got there. Her parents, Tony and Penny, met at BC, and Skarupa, who was a prized recruit, said BC was always in the back of her mind. She was comfortable right away at the Heights.
She was certainly at home on the ice.
In her first year at BC, she was the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, registering 24 goals and 29 assists in 33 games, second on the team in scoring to Alex Carpenter, who this week is playing for the United States in Sochi.
After her freshman season, Skarupa was again invited to a US camp, this time the selection camp for the 2013 women’s national team, the steppingstone to the Olympic team. She didn’t make the cut.
“Obviously it wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for,’’ she said. “I went there, did as much as I could, and saw what happened. There were a lot of experienced older players that made that team. But I took a lot away from it.’’Barbara Matson can be reached at email@example.com