EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 7, 2013

Fire on Ice: North Andover's Brown helped lead BC women to three straight Frozen Fours

North Andover's Brown set the tone for BC's third straight Frozen Four berth

Michael Muldoon

---- — James Brown was the self-proclaimed hardest working man in show business. Kristina Brown might be the hardest working woman in hockey.

The 5-foot-4 Boston College senior forward from North Andover wasn’t the biggest or the strongest or the most skilled, but she refused to be outworked. That mindset spread throughout a program which made the Frozen Four each of the last three seasons.

Eagles head coach Katie King Crowley raves about Brown’s work ethic.

“She is one of the most dedicated and hard working athletes I’ve been around in the college game,” said King Crowley, who has been with the program 10 years, the last six as head coach. “She’s a great kid and will be missed for sure.”

Brown said proudly, “I work my tail off, that’s what I do best. I put my teammates first. I’ll be remembered as the crazy psychopath who is in the best shape and will do anything to help my team.”

King Crowley, the Olympic Hockey legend from Salem, N.H., said, “Although she didn’t wear a (captain’s) letter for us, she was a leader with our team. If she saw someone who was down on or off the ice, she would try to cheer them up with some candy or a motivational note.

“I have a lot of respect for the way she came to the rink every day ready to give everything she had for the team.”

Blue-collar attitude

She might have been on the fourth line, but the former Cushing Academy star was always there to contribute. Well, almost always. She played in 144 of 145 career games, making the Eagles colors — for the last four years, anyway — Maroon and Gold and Brown.

The only game she missed was after suffering a concussion her freshman year.

When asked if she prided herself on being an ironman, she said, “Absolutely! It’s very difficult to be a Division 1 athlete in any sport. The wear and tear on the body is unbelievable. I love the game and I don’t want to be away from it. I was blessed with good health and I worked hard to make sure I stayed healthy.”

Brown was second on the team in face-offs (47 of 78, .603) and equalled her career high with five goals to help the Eagles to a 27-6-3 record.

Tough-luck Eagles

BC, though, continued to be snakebit, losing in OT to unbeaten defending national champion Minnesota in the national semifinals before a rabid sellout crowd of 3,400 in the Golden Gophers’ home rink.

“We were ready,” said Brown. “We scored first. I was so excited I almost blacked out. It was the best game of women’s hockey I’ve been a part of. We wanted a different outcome, but you couldn’t have asked for a better last game.”

Minnesota won 3-2 in overtime and then whipped Boston University, 6-3, to repeat as national champion.

Making the Frozen Four “was more than words can describe,” said Brown. “Coach came up to me before the game and said, ‘Did you ever imagine in the first year (8-17-10) we’d make it three in a row?’ It’s just a blessing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

BC lost in the semis the last three years with 2011 a similar heartbreaker. That year Wisconsin netted the game-winner with 48 seconds left and again beat BU for the title.

Complementary player

Brown was always satisfied with being a glue player while second-team All-Americans like sophomore forward Alex Carpenter of North Reading (32 goals, 37 assists) and senior defenseman Blake Bolden were the superstars.

“Everybody in Division 1 hockey is the best of the best for their high school team,” said Brown. “I went in with no expectations. Just work hard and do everything I can to make the team successful. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out.”

Playing for King Crowley, this year’s Hockey East Coach of the Year, may have been fate.

“At 10, I went to her camp at Phillips Andover,” said Brown. “I just remember I idolized her. What a small world to end up here. She definitely taught me a lot. It was definitely an honor to play for her.”

She’s from a hockey family. Her father, Chris Brown, won a state title at Arlington Catholic in 1978 and is in the school’s Hall of Fame. Her brothers, Alec and Austin, play for North Andover and Alec was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star in golf.

Kristina isn’t ready to call it a career.

“There is definitely hockey left in me,” she said. “I’m really hoping to go to Europe. I’m young and I love hockey and there are some good professional leagues. ... I’m looking to play anywhere.”

Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.

Future in film? A psychology major with a minor in film, Kristina Brown also has been a success off the ice with a 3.38 GPA. For the last three years, she's made the Hockey East All-Academic, Athletic Director's Honor Roll and ACC Honor Roll teams. Her love of film blossomed from making some popular team videos. "We'd make these little 'pump-up' videos before the game," she explained. "Then senior videos and end of year videos. I'm obsessed with it. I'd love to go on to the film world."