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Jessica DiGirolamo braced herself as Sierra Burt from Lindenwood received a loose puck at half ice and landed in a one-on-one situation. DiGirolamo slowed Burt down, which allowed Anna Leschyshyn to catch up.
Although the puck was cleared to the other side of the ice, Leschyshyn and Burt still kept the physicality going after the play, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for each.
Both players got identical penalties, but their situations were different, as with a minute and a half left in the third period, Syracuse (10-9-5, 8-3-0-1 College Hockey America) led by five goals and kept dominating on both sides of the ice. In the last minute and a half, Lindenwood (5-18, 3-6 CHA) didn’t earn another chance to get a shot on goal, and the Orange won 6-1 in large part due to defensive plays like DiGirolamo and Leschyshyn’s.
Syracuse came out of the gate with energy on Friday, and in the first two minutes, Lindenwood only managed one shot which Shelby Calof blocked. Madison Primeau took advantage of an ensuing power play and scored off a distance shot from the middle to put Syracuse up 1-0.
A minute and a half later, Rachel Goff received a pass in between the two faceoff circles and looked to shoot it, but DiGirolamo took the puck right from her, spun around and eventually got it to Victoria Klimek for a missed shot attempt.
Eleven minutes into the first period, Lindenwood began to put pressure on the Syracuse defense. Maddison Stitt wristed a shot, but Arielle DeSmet blocked it. Then Sena Takenaka tried to take a shot, but Tatum White got in her way and deflected it from going anywhere close to the net.
Syracuse countered and White notched a shot that Emily Finach saved, but Lindenwood regrouped and took seven straight shots. Kambel Beacom blocked the second to last one, and then DeSmet saved a long shot by deflecting it with her glove to help clear the puck.
White grabbed the loose puck, carried it to Lindenwood’s net and circled around it. White sent a pass right in front of the net to Klimek, who tapped it in to put Syracuse up 2-0 at the end of the first period.
With 15 minutes remaining in the second period, Syracuse was faced with its first numbers down situation of the night. The Orange, who are the best team in the CHA in penalty kills, kept the trend going and earned the team’s first of the night.
“Our penalty kill has always been really good,” Klimek said. “We work on that throughout the week and just remained composed and in our zone.”
The defense remained alert, as halfway through the second period when Lindenwood was possessing in Syracuse’s half, Hannah Johnson recorded her first of three blocks on the game when Megan Wagner tried to shoot right in front of the net.
At the 14 minute mark, Meara Ryan received a roughing penalty, which resulted in Syracuse dominating and possessing only in Lindenwood’s half for the next two minutes. Lindenwood caught Syracuse off guard, however, when it came back to full strength.
Burt took the puck right in front of the Syracuse net and shot it. DeSmet saved the initial shot, but it was deflected right to Jada Burke who shot it. This time, the puck flew into the back of the net to put Lindenwood within one goal.
Luckily, Syracuse took advantage of a power play within the last minute when Primeau had a fast break and didn’t allow Lindenwood to catch up. She easily put the puck past Finach and earned her second goal of the night, to put Syracuse back up by two goals heading into the final period.
The Orange’s defense was able to relax after two early goals to start the third period. First, Sarah Marchand scored early during a power play from Burt tripping a Syracuse player. Lauren Bellefontaine won the faceoff on the right side and passed it in the middle to Abby Moloughney, who gave one extra pass to Marchand as the Lindenwood defense was still rotating. Moloughney scored the second goal of the period just 30 seconds later at even strength.
Syracuse was up by four goals, but Lindenwood still kept trying to get another goal. Mae Batherson was forced into a two-on-one, and she was beaten by Sydney Rarick down the sideline. Rarick took the shot, but DeSmet saved it.
Seven minutes into the period, DeSmet made another save when a cluster formed around the net. Lindenwood players tried pushing the puck in, but the referees ruled it a save before the puck crossed the line. Even when Syracuse was down, it was able to clear the puck and about halfway into the period, Klimek scored her second goal of the night when the team was short-handed.
“We might have had more short-handed goals than power plays,” head coach Paul Flanagan said.
The rest of the way, Lindenwood had three power-play opportunities, but the Orange earned three kills to keep the lead at five goals and earn their eighth conference win.
“Defense is extremely important especially at this time of year,” Klimek said. “We really emphasize that throughout the week.”
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