Amelia Van Vliet Key For Syracuse
By Ben Spector
CitrusTV’s Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
Syracuse’s Allison Small had just won three straight games against Lindenwood. She earned CHA Honors last week and allowed only five goals in three games. However, Head Coach Paul Flanagan opted to go a different route for the two-game set against Long Island. Rather than go with the hot hand in the senior goaltender, Flanagan started freshman Amelia Van Vliet between the pipes for both games. Friday was Van Vliet’s first career start.
Van Vliet, a freshman goaltender, has rarely gotten on the ice this season. She entered a game for relief on February 5th against Mercyhurst. In that matchup, the freshman made ten saves on eleven shots in seventeen minutes. There wasn’t much to take away from the performance, as Mercyhurst dominated and won 5-2.
This past weekend, however, was a different story for the netminder. Van Vliet looked comfortable and electric on the ice, making key save after key save. On Friday, the Ontario native made nineteen saves on twenty-one shots and secured the 5-2 victory. What stood out most from her performance though was her quickness. LIU had many breakaway opportunities and Van Vliet read the play like a book. Overall she was very sharp.
Van Vliet’s performance the next night was almost identical to the first. Van Vliet saw eighteen shots and stopped all of them, including an incredible pad save on a breakaway in the second period. The freshman’s performance led to her first career shutout in her second career start and a 3-0 victory for the series sweep.
While Van Vliet’s performance is encouraging for the future of hockey at Syracuse, she can certainly be a factor this season. Small has been great as the starter, especially recently, but she has played every game this season except for the last two. Van Vliet gives Flanagan an option to allow Small to rest more in preparation for the CHA tournament. The tournament starts Thursday, March 4th, and Syracuse currently sits at 6-6-1 in the conference.
Syracuse is starting to gain momentum after getting its legs back from such an extended break due to COVID-19, and the fact that Flanagan has two goalies that are capable of starting is extremely beneficial. It allows the skaters in front to keep getting in their groove without having to be concerned about whoever is in between the pipes. SU has a heavy schedule coming up, as there is a matchup against RIT tonight, and a two-game set this weekend against Robert Morris. These are the only three games left before the CHA tournament, and if Van Vliet plays as she did against LIU, Small can get the much-needed rest.
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