Ice Hockey

Syracuse ice hockey inches closer to first-round bye with 3-0 victory over Mercyhurst

Colin Davy | Asst. Photo Editor

The win wasn’t pretty, and the Orange didn’t dominate play, but it came out with two more points and one step closer to a CHA tournament bye.

As Paul Flanagan stood outside his team’s locker room, resting against the outside of the boards with purple Gatorade and stat sheet in hand, the audible result of two points rung from just beyond the doors.

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran blasted in the SU locker room, then cheers and whoops of a victorious night drowned out Flanagan’s answers about special teams and goaltending. Since November, Syracuse’s head coach has preached the importance of two points. Now in the home stretch of College Hockey America play, the importance of two points is boldface in the minds of SU’s personnel.

And Friday night, the Orange (11-11-5, 10-3-2 CHA) picked up another two points as it defeated Mercyhurst (10-17-2, 6-8-1) 3-0 at Tennity Ice Pavilion. The win wasn’t pretty, and the Orange didn’t dominate play, but it came out with two more points and one step closer to a CHA tournament bye.

“Getting the two points is huge,” senior defender Larissa Martyniuk said. “Hopefully tomorrow we get another two.”

Flanagan said he thought his team started out strong, but saw a little lull in the middle of the period. Part of that was rough play, board battles, stick checks and tons of contact. Mercyhurst used its forecheck and physical play to keep SU buried in its zone.

Eventually, the Orange generated some chances, but it was much of the same: loose pucks and bodies flying everywhere. The game was rough and tumble right from the very start.

“I love when people slash me and stuff,” Martyniuk said. “It makes me laugh. It’s nice when you can get away with a little bit.”

With 52 seconds left in the first period, SU took the lead. After senior forward Jessica Sibley drew a penalty with three seconds left in a Mercyhurst powerplay, Syracuse had a skater advantage of its own.

The Orange, finally free of errant sticks and hard-hitting shoulders, could move the puck. Junior forward Emily Costales found freshman forward Savannah Rennie behind the net. Rennie moved to the front, just out of the reach of Lakers goaltender Sarah McDonnell’s stick, and fired across the outstretched goalies body.

“A little bit of patience and I saw an opening,” Rennie said, “I just tried to get it on net.”

The puck found its way up into the top left corner of the net, and SU never relinquished the lead. Two third period goals from junior forward Alysha Burriss sealed the game for the Orange.

On both of the goals, Burriss was positioned in the right spot. A rebound, a bouncing puck, and the swipe of a stick to go five hole on MacDonnell twice. That’s all it took.

The Orange won every statistical category, but until the third goal, the Lakers were never out of it.

“Thirty-five years I haven’t seen a perfect game yet,” Flanagan said. “Just get those two points and keep climbing that ladder.”

It wasn’t a dominating win. It wasn’t a pretty win. But it was a win. And with the march toward Buffalo, the CHA tournament and a first round bye in full swing, Syracuse will take it.


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