Syracuse toughs out physical game to beat Mercyhurst for 1st time

first_img Published on November 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Two-thousand one-hundred eighty-five days had passed since Syracuse first played Mercyhurst. Over the span of nearly six years, SU only mustered 28 losses and two ties in 30 games. On try 31, the Orange finally broke through.Players piled over the bench, skating toward Jenn Gilligan to celebrate the win. Those on the ice quickly made their way to Gilligan and head coach Paul Flanagan walked to the mass of players by the net. After a quick handshake, the players bolted for the locker room. Some players waved to their parents, others shouted and Dakota Derrer walked with her arms raised.Mercyhurst made SU (3-4-5, 2-1-1 College Hockey America) grind for the win with borderline body checks and a third-period rush, but the Orange staved it all off to beat the Lakers (9-2-1, 3-1-0), 4-1, for the first time in program history Saturday at Tennity Ice Pavilion.“We even said… ‘Regardless of what happens, go out in this third period and just give it everything you’ve got,’” Flanagan said. “‘Manage the puck, block shots, get the puck off the glass and out, do the little things well.’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThrough the first two periods, SU and Mercyhurst tallied one goal each. Mercyhurst struck first after Jennifer MacAskill poked the puck past Gilligan during a scrum in front of the net. Then SU’s Nicole Renault blasted a shot from the blue line to knot the score. A physical first two periods escalated into an even more physical third period. As Megan Quinn and Mercyhurst’s Hannah Bale battled on the boards for a puck in the third period, Bale wrapped her arm around Quinn and as Bale moved away, the two fell back on the ice. Nearly 30 seconds later, Melissa Piacentini and Mercyhurst’s Molly Byrne fought for the puck near Mercyhust’s blue line and Byrne shoved Piacentini, who knocked Byrne on the ice. As Gilligan covered the puck on the other end, Byrne rushed the net after the whistle and stopped abruptly, spraying Gilligan with ice.“You’ve just got to push back,” Knerr said. “They may be bigger and taller than us, but you’ve got to push back and use your body as much as you can.”With less than nine minutes left in the game, Piacentini knocked the puck out of the air with her hand, backhanding a pass in front of the goal. Instead of finding a teammate, the puck found the back of the net, slipping through the legs of Mercyhurst goalie Amanda Makela to give Syracuse a 2-1 lead. About a minute after SU’s second goal, Mercyhurst passed across the ice for a one-time shot and Gilligan stopped the puck, but it fell and players poked at the puck and a prone Gilligan. Eventually the puck stuck underneath Gilligan and SU escaped unscathed.The opportunity was not Mercyhurst’s last. The Lakers worked the puck on SU’s side of the ice. Alysha Burris stepped in front of a shot and blocked it with her stick. “Blocking a shot is like scoring a goal, it was very good and it pumped our bench up when we did it,” said Knerr. Mercyhurst had one more opportunity, a power play, but put no shots on net. SU cleared the puck two times, each drawing howls from the bench. As the public address announcer shouted “Syracuse at full strength,” the bench let out another yell. When Mercyhurst had exhausted all its options, it subbed Makela for an extra attacker. As SU cleared the puck, Piacentini sent a pass to Burriss who chipped the puck from Mercyhurst’s blue line into the net. With a 3-1 lead and two-goal cushion, the bench went crazy. Grossi and Akane Hosomayada hugged while other players high-fived and cheered on their teammates.“I think our confidence was going downhill after yesterday’s game,” said Piacentini of the Orange’s 5-1 loss to Mercyhurst on Friday. “Looking at our record, it wasn’t going our way, our games weren’t going our way, so to get this win was huge.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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