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Syracuse was up 3-1 against Penn State when the Nittany Lions began their counterattack. The first shot from Penn State went to the left side of the net, but Arielle DeSmet shifted to her right and extended her right hand to block the shot. The puck bounced off her pads, so she quickly shifted to her left to block the rebound shot with her body to prevent Penn State from coming within one goal.
The Orange beat Penn State 6-3 in a Nov. 20 match that was highlighted by offensive play. Regardless of the offensive play, however, DeSmet’s career-high 50 saves limited the Nittany Lions, helping Syracuse to its fifth win of the season.
After transferring to Syracuse from Robert Morris University, DeSmet quickly adjusted to playing with the Orange. She earned the starting role and has helped Syracuse hold opposing offenses to a low scoring rate this season. This year, she’s recorded 328 saves so far, while also earning a College Hockey America goaltender of the week award twice.
In May, Robert Morris announced that both the men’s and women’s ice hockey programs would be disbanded, which forced DeSmet, a rising senior, to transfer if she wanted to continue to play ice hockey collegiate hockey. The day the program disbanded, Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said he fielded approximately eight phone calls to players on that team, including DeSmet.
Before the program disbanded, Robert Morris was in Syracuse’s conference, allowing for frequent matchups between the Orange and the Colonials. Last season, the two programs met five times, with Syracuse eventually losing to RMU in the CHA tournament championship.
Flanagan had already scouted DeSmet without knowing it, as she played in two out of the five matchups against SU. She sat out the other three as she split time with two other goaltenders during her junior year.
In the two matchups she played, DeSmet allowed six goals but had 51 saves against the Orange. She finished her career with the Colonials recording 649 saves with a .916 save percentage.
Former Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino said DeSmet was an explosive and fast player. Off the ice, Colontino said she had a strong work ethic and desire to play in her time at RMU.
“The addition of someone like Arielle in the locker room is a good thing,” Colontino said. “She’s mature and has years under her belt.”
Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director
Flanagan talked to DeSmet multiple times about having her play at Syracuse. Eventually, DeSmet realized Syracuse would be the perfect fit, and she announced her commitment to Syracuse on June 30 — roughly a month after RMU’s team disbanded.
With Syracuse, DeSmet felt she had the chance to earn playing time despite Allison Small holding the starting spot last season. RMU won the CHA championship that year, an experience that DeSmet said was something she could bring to Syracuse.
“I’m just trying to bring my experiences here and help make (Syracuse) better understand what really goes into the process of a championship team,” DeSmet said.
The former Robert Morris goaltender quickly adjusted to the team and campus. Even after RMU beat Syracuse in the CHA championship last season, DeSmet said the team accepted her right away. To bond and get everyone on the team involved, the players would often go to Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursday nights.
“She brings such positive energy,” forward Lauren Bellefontaine said. “We were missing a lot of that.”
DeSmet watched from the bench at the beginning of the first game of the season, but she was quickly called into action after Small was injured in the first period. DeSmet played the next two periods against St. Lawrence, notching 19 saves while letting up two goals. The next game, she played almost all of the 65 minutes and totaled 32 saves, this time helping Syracuse get the tie by letting up only two goals.
“I think it’s worked out well,” Flanagan said of DeSmet’s addition. “She seems happy.”
Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director
As DeSmet became more acclimated to playing with Syracuse, she was able to help Syracuse hold Clarkson — who has the seventh best Ranking Per Index in the nation — to four goals in the two game series. The second game she held Clarkson to just one goal in a 1-1 tie.
After the series she was named CHA’s goaltender of the week. She also won the award for a second time after her series against Penn State when she held the Nittany Lions to just one goal and recorded 18 saves in an overtime loss before posting her career-high in the second game. The second game she recorded her career high of 50 saves.
So far this season, DeSmet has posted a .927 save percentage and has held opposing teams to one goal five times this year. She earned her only shutout against Union in early November.
DeSmet prevented the Bulldogs from scoring with 21 saves in the game. Late in the third period, Union’s Paige Greco took a long shot, but DeSmet deflected it. Maddie Suitor came in for the rebound and rallied off two more strikes, but DeSmet hit both away.
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