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Emma Polaski fought for possession of the puck behind goalie Allison Small. Rochester Institute of Technology senior Ellie Larson shoved Polaski to the ground and she laid on her stomach behind the net. A whistle blew as the defender was called for boarding and sent to the penalty box.
Syracuse, now on a power play, changed back to their starting line and won the faceoff on RIT’s left circle. Mae Batherson quickly passed the puck from the top of the key to Lauren Bellefontaine who instinctively fired it toward the goal. Patiently waiting for the rebound was Polaski who sent the puck into an unguarded net for her second goal of the night.
The Orange (1-2, 1-0 College Hockey America) leaned heavily on their first line in the opening period en route to a 7-1 blowout of RIT (0-1, 0-1 CHA). A unit that was uncharacteristically silent against Colgate contributed to five of Syracuse’s seven goals scored Friday night, with each forward scoring in the first period.
In the women’s opening weekend matchups against Colgate, the first line did not score a single goal, which forced head coach Paul Flanagan to rely on his first-year players.
“To finally get some confidence by scoring, getting a lot of good bids, that means a lot for our team,” Flanagan said.
A mid-ice pass from Jessica Digirolamo to Bellefontaine led to a scorching shot that ricochetted off goalie Jessi O’Leary’s pads. The rebound was gathered by Polaski who knew to circle around into Syracuse’s offensive style. Her shot was also blocked by the goalie, who dove to wrestle in the puck.
Lying like a starfish in the crease, O’Leary watched as an unguarded Polaski passed behind her to Bellefontaine who easily whipped the puck in for Syracuse’s first goal of the game. The successful starting line went to give the junior a celebratory hug before she fist-bumped the whole bench while horns blared through Tennity Ice Pavilion.
From the moment Bellefontaine won the opening puck drop, the Orange were in offensive control of the contest. Led by their established veterans, Syracuse racked up nine shots on O’Leary before RIT was able to shoot on Syracuse.
“Right now that’s our go-to line, our top line, our top power play, and to see them have some confidence is not only good for us as coaches to see but certainly for our kids on the bench,” Flanagan said.
With just over six minutes left in the first period, junior Abby Moloughney displayed her watchful eye for an opening when she caught a pass from Bellefontaine. Splitting three defenders, she rocketed the puck past the goalie who landed on her back.
Flanagan hopes that the continued coordination from the Orange’s first line will lead to “better grade A chances” that RIT saw in the second and third periods. He noted that their three forwards already have great chemistry, a trait that will lead to them sticking together moving forward.
“So just be prepared, and we want to get better each and every time out of all of our lines,” Flanagan said.
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