A Look Back at the Top Moments for Syracuse’s Seniors on the Ice
By John Dales
Citrus TV Women’s Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
This weekend will be the final time that eight of Syracuse’s players compete at historic Tennity Ice Pavilion. For those eight seniors, the goal of winning a second-straight CHA Tournament lives on, but it’s only fitting to also look back at some of the great moments they’ve had over the years.
Bäckebo hasn’t received a ton of playing time throughout her time at SU, but has had some memorable moments for sure. Chief among them is this year when the Orange played Lindenwood on December 7th. Syracuse rolled to a 13-1 victory that day, and Bäckebo did her part to contribute, scoring once, along with getting an assist. She had only four points through her entire first three seasons. Getting half her career point total in just one game must have been a great feeling for Bäckebo.
Cohen’s top performance came in a game where Syracuse was simply overmatched. Last year the Orange played #1 Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Cohen’s goaltending almost single-handedly kept SU in the game. She finished the night with 43 saves. Cohen actually blanked the top ranked Badgers in the first period. As the game progressed, Wisconsin’s lead grew, but Syracuse stayed within striking distance thanks in a large part to Cohen. Although the game ended in a 4-0 loss, Ady Cohen’s work in net made this one a lot closer than most would think a game between a 22-loss SU team and the eventual national champions would be.
Eastwood has filled the leadership role of captain exceptionally well this year, and co-captain a year ago. In the midst of SU’s run to the NCAA Tournament last year, Eastwood had a heroic performance in the CHA semifinals. SU played Mercyhurst, and the two teams split their regular season series. This one was tight all the way through. Eastwood scored two goals in the first two periods, but the Lakers would not go away, and the two teams were tied 3-3 about midway through the third. Then, Eastwood stepped up and delivered her third goal of the game with eight minutes to play, and that proved to be the game-winner. Eastwood’s hat trick in the CHA Tournament semifinals was one of the more clutch performances in recent SU hockey history.
Hicks, another captain on this year’s team, hasn’t accrued a lot of points through her four years. She more than makes up for it with her defense though. This defense was on display in SU’s 3-2 hard-fought victory over Lindenwood a couple weeks ago. Hicks finished that game with six blocks, which matched a career-high. SU finished with 28 more shots on goal than the Lions, so the defensive effort led by Hicks definitely went a long way in getting an important conference victory.
Hoppner’s top performance was really the entire three game CHA Tournament a year ago. She was named the CHA Tournament MVP after putting up five points in three games to help SU get its first ever NCAA Tournament berth. She was the offensive centerpiece in all three of those games, scoring and assisting once each in the first two contests, and getting one more assist in the championship against Robert Morris.
Olnowhich’s finest moment came in the most crucial part of last season. In the CHA Tournament Championship game against Robert Morris, Olnowich got the Orange on the board first. That score was monumental because it set the tone for the remainder of the game that an underdog SU squad would not be daunted by the bright lights of a championship game. Olnowich wasn’t finished though. Later in the game, Olnowich assisted on a goal by Savannah Rennie that put the Orange up 4-1. As the clock hit triples zeroes, Syracuse won the CHA Tournament for the first time in program history, and it wouldn’t have happened without a huge performance by Allie Olnowich.
Rennie, a senior from East St. Paul, Manitoba, was also a big part of the conference championship run a year ago. However, in my opinion her best game was this year against Penn State. Rennie got an assist and scored the game-sealing goal in a 3-1 victory for the Orange over the Nittany Lions. That performance was huge because the win kicked off a 5-0-1 run for the Orange in the next several weeks. SU would be dwelling at the bottom of the standings if not for that win that turned it around, and Rennie’s two points were a key factor in that game
Rowswell was also a key part of SU’s tournament run — dishing out two assists in the semifinal against Mercyhurst — but, like Rennie, I believe her best game happened this season too. Back in November, Syracuse struggled to put together a quality performance and earn a victory. SU started off a weekend set against RIT by losing 7-4. That next day, Rowswell scored in the 2nd period, and got an assist in the third as the Orange got a much-needed 3-0 win over RIT. That game was the first conference victory for SU and an important game to keep the Orange’s confidence from falling any further early in the season. Without Rowswell’s two point performance against RIT in November, who knows where this team could be now?
Syracuse’s seniors have two more chances to make some memories on the ice at Tennity. After that, the team switches to survive-and-advance mode with the impending CHA Tournament. In what’s an exciting time in college hockey, there’s certainly an argument to be made that the true March Madness isn’t taking place on the hardwood, but rather the ice.
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