Offense, In Fact, Does Help You Win Championships
By Tyler Melito
CitrusTV’s Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
They say offense wins you games, but defense wins you championships. That may be true, but you are not going to get a shot at a championship if you don’t win many games. That is the dilemma that Syracuse is facing just five games into the season. The Orange currently sit at one win, three losses, and a tie overall, with a 1-1-1 conference record.
Now I know you are probably thinking I am overreacting, and Syracuse will turn things around, and that may be true. However, when trends start to develop for a team, that means that there is something happening. Sometimes it’s a positive trend, like a winning streak. Unfortunately, those trends can sometimes be very bad, and through five games of their 2020-2021 season, there is one trend that Syracuse’s offense will want to break, especially if they have any aspirations of earning their spot in the NCAA tournament at season’s end.
Last week I wrote about how Syracuse goaltender Allison Small has been lights out so far in this early season, and that still holds true. The issue for Small however is that outside of one game, the offense in front of her has simply not been able to alleviate the pressure she is getting from whichever team SU is playing that day. Which means that sometimes one or two goals will be all it takes to beat the Orange.
Here is the breakdown of the scores through five games for Syracuse:
- 11/20 against Colgate: Syracuse loses 2-3
- 11/21 against Colgate: Syracuse loses 1-3
- 11/27 against RIT: Syracuse wins 7-1
- 12/5 against Penn State: Syracuse loses 1-2
- 12/6 against Penn State: Syracuse ties 2-2.
Through five games Syracuse has scored 13 goals, an average of about 2.6 per game. They have only allowed 11, but let’s dive deeper because there are some things very much worth discussing.
First is the outlier game against RIT where Syracuse put up a seven-goal performance against the Tigers. Take that game out of the equation and the Orange would only have six goals so far, an average of 1.5 through four games.
In their first game, and most recent game of this season, Syracuse scored two goals in the first period and ended the period with a 2-0 lead over Colgate and Penn State respectively (Fun fact: in both of those games, the two goals scored were scored by the same player, Rayla Clemons against Colgate and Victoria Klimek against Penn State). After one period against the Raiders on that November 20 evening, Syracuse had seven shots on goal, they finished the game with 15. The Orange failed to score a goal in the final 40 minutes and change, while the Raiders were able to score three goals in the final ten minutes of gameplay. Similarly, against Penn State on December 6, the Orange got out to their two-goal lead over the Nittany Lions after one period. A period where SU had 20 shots on goal. Through the final 45 minutes, Syracuse had 17 shots on goal, and ultimately finished the game tied with PSU, who scored two goals with less than ten minutes in the third period.
In their other two losses on November 21 and December 5, Syracuse exited the first period tied at one with their respective opponents in each of those two matches. During the second and third periods in both of those games however, it seemed that the Orange’s offense decided to call it a night, and did not show up and left their defense, specifically Small in net, out to dry.
Let me be clear, I am no hockey expert by any stretch of the imagination. I can barely skate to save my life. That is not to say though that I seriously question what Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan and the rest of his staff is telling this team that allows for them to come out relatively aggressive in the first period of games on offense, then decide to basically quit after that point. To further show the disparity between Syracuse’s first period performance compared to the other two periods. Through five games, the Cuse has ten goals in the first period and just three in the second and third periods combined. Take out that RIT game once more where they won by such a large margin, the Orange have six goals in the first period, and zero in the final two periods combined.
So, like how I started this piece, offense might not be what ultimately helps SU clinch a CHA or NCAA championship at season’s end, but there is no way they’ll even have an opportunity to play in a championship if the Syracuse offense doesn’t show up for the entirety of games, and not just the first 20 minutes.
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