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After winning the College Hockey America Championship, Syracuse was given an automatic bid in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Orange will face Quinnipiac in the regional semifinals on Thursday.
It is the second time SU will go to the NCAA Tournament after making it for the first time in 2019. The 2019 team consisted of many current senior and fifth-year players who make up the 2022 team.
Jessica DiGirolamo and Victoria Klimek returned for one last season, while Abby Moloughney and Lauren Bellefontaine entered their senior years. Four of the Orange’s five top point scorers and both goaltenders are seniors or graduate players. On the other end, Shelby Calof was one of the defensive leaders while graduate transfer Arielle DeSmet was awarded CHA Goaltender of the Year.
Despite the senior talent, Syracuse initially struggled as it started with a 3-5-2 record in its first 10 games. But as the Orange opened conference play, there was an improvement as they picked up wins over Penn State, Lindenwood and Mercyhurst. And to start the new year, SU traveled to Pittsburgh for the “Battle at the Burgh” where it tied Boston University and beat St. Cloud State to win the tournament.
After that tournament win, the Orange had a 5-0-1 record to move back to near the top of the CHA standings. However, when they had a chance to secure the No. 1 seed, they lost 9-0 on Feb. 11 against Mercyhurst. But SU rebounded with a 4-1 win to secure the top spot in the conference and home-ice advantage for the CHA Tournament.
In the semifinal game of the tournament, Moloughney scored a hat trick to beat RIT 3-2. Then in the championship, Sarah Thompson scored off a rebound to beat the Lakers and secure an automatic bid and a matchup against the Bobcats.
“I don’t think we want to focus on who we’re playing against,” Calof said. “It’s more about improving our game and our systems.”
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