Every dollar donated during December will go directly toward paying students to produce stories like this one. Give now and ensure a brighter future for The Daily Orange.
Lauren Bellefontaine was already in the penalty box when Jessica DiGirolamo was called for a slashing. The penalty put Mercyhurst at the two-man advantage six minutes into the second period with the score tied at 1-1.
During the five-on-three, the Orange had more shots on goal than the Lakers. On one of those shots, Mercyhurst defender Mary Sweetapple sent a pass from the top left of the SU zone down to Sarah Nelles. But there was immediate pressure from Syracuse’s Mae Batherson, forcing Nelles to pass back to Sweetapple.
Abby Moloughney tipped the pass with her backhand to bounce the puck off the boards. It then became a race for the puck between Moloughney and Sweetapple. The Syracuse forward was already a step ahead of Sweetapple and now had a chance for the shorthanded goal. Moloughney skated past Jordan Mortlock and fired a wrist shot that goalie Ena Nystrøm saved with her glove. SU head coach Paul Flanagan said Moloughney’s play was important in the Orange’s penalty kill with the score still tied.
“That’s the tendency of five-on-three,” he said. “When they’re on offense, they don’t expect that to happen so we caught them napping.”
While Moloughney’s shot didn’t give Syracuse (6-8-3, 5-3 College Hockey America) the lead, it was emblematic of the dominant penalty kill performance in its 3-1 win over Mercyhurst (13-6-2, 4-2 CHA). The Orange went into today with only five allowed power-play goals in 16 games. It is the fewest power-play goals allowed in the conference. And on four power plays in the second period, the highest-scoring offense in the CHA couldn’t score once against SU. Bellefontaine said the penalty kill has saved the team many times this season as the Orange are very aggressive in puck control when they are down a player.
“It is one of our strongest aspects of our play,” Bellefontaine said. “And it really helped us stay in the game today.”
The first Lakers’ power play came 42 seconds into the second period as Rayla Clemons was called for slashing. Sydney Pedersen and Applewater started the man advantage with back-to-back shots, but both were blocked by SU defenders. Later in the power play, Alexa Vasko and Jersey Phillips were able to get shots off on goalie Arielle DeSmet. But the Robert Morris transfer made saves on both shots with her pads. Viktoria Klimek also created disruption in the neutral zone, stopping Mercyhurst attacks before they could start.
The first penalty kill provided momentum for SU as less than 90 seconds after the penalty ended, Bellefontaine corralled in the floating puck and scored a goal to tie the game at one.
“Because we were so active with (the penalty kill) and getting sticks on loose parts and moving things, I think it actually got Mercyhurst on their heels,” Flanagan said.
But after Bellefontaine scored, she went to the penalty box for slashing less than two minutes later. This started the eventual five-on-three. After Moloughney’s shot in the five-on-three, Clemons was also able to get a shot off with the Orange only down one player. Nystrøm tried to make a pass off the boards but Klimek easily stole the puck, creating a two-on-one with Clemons. Clemons fired a shot that got deflected and went wide off Nystrøm. The offense, while down a player, helped SU kill time on the Mercyhurst power play.
But with five minutes remaining in the second period, the Lakers once again went on the power play after Anna Leschyshyn slammed Vasko into the boards. It took 16 seconds for Mercyhurst to get a shot off with Pedersen lurking near the blue line of Syracuse’s zone. Pedersen took the shot but DiGirolamo poked her stick out, which deflected the shot nowhere near DeSmet and the net. Sweetapple had a shot from the blue line during the power play as well. But DeSmet easily deflected it.
And as Leschyshyn came out of the box, she capitalized on the extra momentum SU now had. Klimek zoomed down the left side of the rink and made multiple dekes to have an open look at the net. Klimek’s shot beat Nystrøm, but it hit the top pipe and flew behind the net.
The Orange still had possession of the puck, giving Klimek another chance. Klimek’s second shot down the left side didn’t go, but Leschyshyn collected the rebound and buried the puck in the net. This gave Syracuse a lead for the first time against Mercyhurst this weekend.
While there weren’t any more power plays for the Lakers, a four-on-four concluded the second period after Vasko and Sarah Marchand were both sent to the box for roughing. But as Marchand and Vasko left the box, MU had its best chance of the night.
Right in front of DeSmet, Batherson slipped with the puck, giving Mercyhurst a wide-open look. Chantal Ste-Croix, a top-10 scorer in the CHA, took the shot, but DeSmet made a glove save. This was the end of Syracuse’s dominance on special teams and Flanagan felt the energy was a stark contrast from the night before, specifically on the five-on-three.
“That was a huge juncture part of that game,” Flanagan said. “It just helped our kids gain confidence. On the defensive aspect, when you’re feeling good things are going well for you pick it up a little offensively.”
The post Syracuse’s penalty kill shuts down Mercyhurst offense in 3-1 win appeared first on The Daily Orange.