Get the latest Syracuse news delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe to our sports newsletter here.
In Syracuse’s College Hockey America tournament opener against RIT, SU head coach Paul Flanagan started his first forward and defensive units. This featured an all-senior group with Lauren Bellefontaine at center, Abby Moloughney and Victoria Klimek at the wings, Jessica DiGirolamo and Shelby Calof at the blue line along with Arielle DeSmet in the net.
As she normally did, DiGirolamo set up from the right side of the RIT zone and fired a wrist shot toward goaltender Sarah Coe in the opening period. But as Tiger defender Mia Tsilemos blocked the shot, Klimek was able to gain control of the puck and lightly tap it to Moloughney. The left winger easily beat Coe’s stick from close range to put the Orange up 1-0, the first goal of Moloughney’s hat trick in a 3-2 overtime win that advanced the Orange to its eventual CHA title.
For Syracuse’s graduating classes, it was the group’s second conference championship and subsequent appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Before this class came to SU, the program had no CHA titles or NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2019, they were role players that added to one of the conference’s best attacks to win SU its first conference title, and this season, the seniors were once again relied upon at even strength and on the power play.
“Our group accomplished a lot this year,” Flanagan said. “They went to two NCAA Tournaments and won two CHA Championships. And that’s the first group that’s done that at our program.”
The seniors graduated at or near the top of many program and conference records. DiGirolamo’s 95 points were the most ever by a Syracuse defenseman, and she is also ranked among the top five in CHA’s career goals, points and assists all-time leaderboards. Moloughney recorded 46 career goals, which is only second behind Melissa Piacentini in Syracuse history.
In the 2018-19 season, the then-first year players initially did not need to be Syracuse’s top point scorers. That year, the Orange had defenseman Allie Munroe, who recorded 28 points, the fourth-most in the conference. SU also had veteran forward Brooke Avery, who was second on the team with 270 faceoff wins, only behind Bellefontaine. The Orange also had Emma Polaski who led the team with 11 goals.
Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director
Still, this did not mean that then-freshmen and sophomores were not contributors. Moloughney was a top 10 scorer in the CHA, totaling 11 goals and 23 points. Moloughney and DiGirolamo tallied the most power-play goals for the Orange with six and four, respectively. Bellefontaine also won 379 faceoffs, setting up her prolific career from the faceoff circle with the third-best mark in the conference. SU defeated Robert Morris to win the 2019 CHA title before losing 4-0 to top-ranked Wisconsin in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
This season, the seniors were especially crucial in the power play when they scored 68% of Syracuse’s power-play goals. The unit helped the Orange score the most power-play goals in the CHA and the ninth-most in Division I. Bellefontaine, Moloughney and DiGirolamo were all on the top power-play line along with freshmen Madison Primeau and Sarah Marchand.
The unit’s efficiency was fueled by the connection of Moloughney and Bellefontaine, who combined for 195 shots, eight power-play goals, 25 goals and 54 points this year. The two have played on the same team since 2014, starting with the Nepean Jr. Wildcats of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League. Bellefontaine didn’t play a game in 2014 or 2015, but when the pair shared the ice together in 2016, they combined for 87 points the following two years at the junior level.
“We grew up playing hockey together since we were 11. Ever since our first hockey game, we’ve been playing online for probably five-plus years,” Bellefontaine said. “So we know how each other plays; we know exactly where we’re going to be on the ice.”
While Bellefontaine and Moloughney had played with each other for a much longer time, DiGirolamo and Klimek both decided to return for an extra year together, extending their playing time together that started in 2017. DiGirolamo (158) and Klimek (123) also ranked first and second in shots, respectively. And DiGirolamo’s 95 points were the third-highest in SU history, while Klimek’s 73 points ranked 11th.
“With Lauren, Abby and Shelby in that class, they’ve just done a great job,” Flanagan said after winning the CHA Championship. “Getting the fifth years to be able to combine at one big, you know, ‘super senior’ class has been pretty special.”
The post Data dive: The defining statistics of Syracuse’s decorated senior class appeared first on The Daily Orange.