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The final buzzer sounded, the Syracuse bench cleared, and the entire SU roster joyously skated across the ice in celebration, embracing as a team inside Arielle DeSmet’s crease. Captain Jessica DiGirolamo hoisted the tournament trophy, and the Orange were “Battle at the Burgh” champions.
Syracuse (7-9-5, 5-3 College Hockey America) topped St. Cloud State (7-12-1, 2-11-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) 5-2 to seize the second annual “Battle at the Burgh” title on Sunday. Five of the game’s seven goals came in a chaotic first period, at the conclusion of which Syracuse edged St. Cloud State 3-2. The Orange then notched two unanswered goals in the third period to secure the championship.
The Huskies were the more aggressive side early in the first period, an early pressure that quickly overwhelmed the Orange as St. Cloud State registered four shots to SU’s one in the first three minutes. Soon after, the Huskies successfully cracked the Orange’s defensive unit when Olivia Cvar drove beyond Syracuse’s goal line against the right boards and passed the puck back to Emma Gentry. Gentry fired a one-time shot between DeSmet and the right goal post off the pass from Cvar to give the Huskies an early advantage.
St. Cloud State continued to control the game’s pace following Gentry’s opening goal with quick, direct passing, but only until defender Grace Wolfe was sent to the penalty box 7:30 into the period. The short-handed Huskies allowed Syracuse to manage possession and work the puck around St. Cloud State’s defensive zone.
A relentless combination of passes along the wings and shots from distance proved too much for the Huskies to preserve their lead. With 13 seconds left in SU’s first power play of the game, Shelby Calof unleashed a shot from the edge of St. Cloud State’s defensive zone, tying the game at 1-1. The puck managed to find the back net after sliding through the crowd of players hovering in front of the Huskies’ crease.
Having ceded their pressure from earlier, the Huskies adjusted to a counterattacking style of play in the minutes following Calof’s equalizer. This nearly led to St. Cloud State regaining its lead in a 2-on-1 breakaway situation when Taylor Lind skated into open space and fired a hard shot towards goal. DeSmet blocked the puck, floating it behind her head into the air.
The SU defense was able to recover the puck and launched a counterattack of their own. Anna Leschyshyn rapidly drove into the Huskies’ zone before laying the puck into the path of Sarah Marchand, who then slipped it beyond St. Cloud State goaltender Sanni Ahola to put the Orange in front for the first time.
Abby Moloughney notched her third goal of the tournament four minutes later after capitalizing on a rebound from a DiGirolamo shot to put Syracuse up 3-1.
SU’s defense held strong until Victoria Klimek received a two-minute body checking penalty with 80 seconds left in the first period. With the Orange short-handed, the Huskies sent all skaters forward, causing a scrum on the left side of Syracuse’s defensive zone. St. Cloud State’s Courtney Hall then managed to snatch the puck from the crowd of players and fling a shot towards goal. DeSmet made the initial save but couldn’t prevent Hall from capitalizing on her own rebound and cutting SU’s lead back to one goal, with just 12 seconds left in the period.
Mirroring the aggression from the first period, St. Cloud State was eager to level the scoring early in the second period but couldn’t break through despite lengthy spells of possession in the Orange’s zone. Both teams received two penalties, but neither side could convert their respective power plays in a scoreless second period.
With only 20 minutes remaining to find an equalizing goal, St. Cloud State continuously attempted to execute a high-tempo style of play with direct vertical passing. The Huskies generated 12 shots during the third period but couldn’t get past DeSmet. The SU senior made 12 saves in the final 20 minutes, preventing a St. Cloud State comeback.
Halfway through the period, the St. Cloud State defense was caught out, and Klimek sent a pass up to Hannah Johnson directly through the neutral zone. With time and open space, Johnson smoothly placed the puck past Ahola to cushion SU’s lead to 4-2.
The Huskies pulled Ahola from the game with nearly four minutes left as a last-ditch effort to tie the game, but Syracuse held on. Leschyshyn had an open lane to shoot on the edge of St. Cloud State’s defensive zone with 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Her shot sailed wide right of the empty net.
Instead, Klimek sealed the victory, scoring a goal of her own after receiving a pass from Lauren Bellefontaine just 22 seconds later as she drifted past two defenders to cement a successful championship weekend in Pittsburgh.
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