A Season of Growth for Syracuse Women’s Ice Hockey
By Luke Burgess
CitrusTV Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
If you ask anyone in the Syracuse Women’s Ice Hockey Locker Room how they envisioned their season ending, it certainly wouldn’t have been with a 6-0 loss on the road in the CHA Tournament.
Unfortunately for the Orange, that’s exactly how their year came to a close, getting swept in two games by Mercyhurst.
The game itself was very tough, The Orange looked tired and worn out from a long season with their playoff lives on the line, and getting down early to a Mercyhurst team with an explosive offense didn’t help either.
Regardless of what the record reflects this year, the focus of the team is on the culture and identity that was established in Britni Smith’s first year behind the bench.
“I am thankful for the senior class and their effort and commitment to building the ichuSe culture in their final year. We end the season knowing we have laid important building blocks for this program and culture moving forward.” Smith said.
The first year boss made a huge impact on the way that the team operated, making sure that there were no questions as to how the team would approach the season.
Throughout the year the team would have weekly meetings on Tuesday mornings after practice. These meetings would serve as a way for the girls to talk about whatever was on their minds, whether it was related to hockey, school, or even life outside of Syracuse.
Smith knew how important it would be to establish that groundwork moving forward, the first year for any coach sets the standard for the years to come, and Smith plans on building a winner in the 315.
The seniors were vital to installing this culture in year one.
Smith knows that it can be tough to buy into a new system, especially for a group of seniors that are on their way out. The efforts of Lauren Bellefontaine, Arielle DeSmet, and the rest of the senior class, made this year what it was. They lead on and off the ice everyday, and Smith knows that that impact will carry on long after they have moved on.
Despite the success of the culture in year one, the team’s record was not as pretty. SU won just 10 times in 36 games. The issues came against teams that were simply more offensively talented than the Orange.
SU was outshot and outscored on the season, and that difference can be almost entirely attributed to ranked opponents such as Penn State, Colgate, and Cornell.
There is no doubt that with Smith’s always looking forward mindset, the team will look at the positive side of this stat, realizing they are that close to competing with everyone aside from the top teams in the nation.
With all that in mind, Coach Smith’s offseason will be a short one, with the CHA Championship heading from the 315 to Happy Valley, recruiting for next years class starts sooner rather than later.
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