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Sarah Thompson took a shot from distance with seven minutes remaining in the first overtime, but it was blocked by RIT’s Kyla Bear.
Thompson’s shot was the 100th of the night, yet Syracuse only had two goals and was tied with the Tigers. They had 24 blocks, and goaltender Sarah Coe had 49 saves on the night.
Then, with little over six minutes remaining, Abby Moloughney received the puck on the left side of the ice with two defenders hovering around her. She flashed her stick work and then wristed a shot on the net. Coe tried extending her arm out to grab the puck, but Moloughney framed it in the upper right corner and sealed Syracuse’s victory with the golden goal.
“Sometimes I just get into a zone where I’m going hard on the ice,” Moloughney said. “I see the puck and I’m like, ‘OK this is going to the net,’ and that’s kind of what I did.”
Syracuse (14-10-6, 11-4-1 College Hockey America), who entered the CHA tournament as a No. 1 seed and once beat RIT (2-27-4, 1-12-3) 7-0 on Nov. 6, struggled to get the puck past Coe and at moments looked as if it was going to get upset by the lowest seeded team in the conference on Friday. But Moloughney’s heroics for Syracuse helped the Orange overcome a 2-1 deficit to advance to the CHA championship for the second straight year.
Early on, it looked like Syracuse would dominate RIT as expected. Moloughney’s first goal came less than a minute in after Jessica DiGirolamo took a shot from near neutral ice. Coe blocked the initial shot, but Moloughney snuck in for the rebound and put it past her to open the game up at 1-0.
The goal from Moloughney would be the only luck Syracuse would have until the third period. SU had 29 shots, 18 of which were on goal after Moloughney’s, but RIT held Syracuse at bay.
Terryn Mozes had a solid look for Syracuse at the top of the zone about a minute after Moloughney’s goal, but it was blocked. Hannah Johnson followed up with a shot of her own, but she was pressured and couldn’t get it on target.
Lauren Bellefontaine then had a clean look at the net and took a shot, but it was as she was falling down and Coe saved it.
Toward the end of the first period, Moloughney looked to get on the scoreboard again and put Syracuse up 2-0, but she couldn’t convert. Even though Syracuse held RIT shotless in the first, it was struggling to extend its lead.
In the final seconds of the period, Syracuse hung on RIT’s half of the ice and put together a string of shots that Coe prevented from going in, which allowed RIT to stay in the game.
At the start of the second period, Bellefontaine let go of a backhand shot, but Coe easily blocked it. Syracuse then almost had another goal when Tatum White curled around RIT’s net and took a shot. It looked as if it was going in, but it hit the pipe and deflected back out onto the ice before a scram to get the loose puck.
Moloughney kept on the attack for Syracuse and was always a threat for RIT to watch out for on the left side. Four minutes into the period she got it on the left side and ripped a shot on net, but it was in reach for Coe.
Three minutes later, Moloughney was body checked, resulting in a power play for Syracuse. DiGirolamo took a shot from far, and Madison Primeau tried to rebound it but was met with strong resistance by the RIT defense. As a result, Primeau body checked a player in front of the net and was called for the penalty, making both teams back to even strength.
In the third period Syracuse trailed after failing to earn a penalty kill on the second straight power play for RIT, and the team would rely on Moloughney to dig it out of a hole.
Chloe McNeil lost the puck on the right side by the power-play circle on RIT’s half, and Moloughney swooped in and carried the puck, almost facing the side of a goal at a 90-degree angle. Still, with the tough angle she ripped a shot that went right by Coe and allowed Syracuse to tie the game and force overtime.
In overtime, Sarah Marchand took the first shot for Syracuse from the right faceoff circle, but Coe blocked it.
Moloughney, who had already scored two goals for the Orange, was hesitant to shoot in overtime, which extended the period. The first time she passed to an open Victoria Klimek in transition, but Klimek couldn’t garner the puck.
Two plays later, Moloughney streaked down the right side of the ice again. Fans were urging for her to take a shot on net, but she chose to pass it to set up a better shot, which was unsuccessful as RIT intercepted it.
Moloughney, who said she used to have a pass-first mindset in her freshman year at Syracuse, remembered she had to get shots off as well to drive her confidence up.
After multiple missed shots and back and forth plays between the two teams, Moloughney finally got another chance with seven minutes and this time chose to shoot without hesitation to give Syracuse the win.
“It’s a good thing Abby was here today,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “We certainly relied on her.”
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