Mercyhurst Stuns Syracuse in the Final Seconds of Overtime
By John Dales
Citrus TV Women’s Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
In any sport, the difference between a win and a loss can be miniscule. On Saturday at Tennity Ice Pavilion, that difference was 0.1 seconds. Mercyhurst’s (12-8-2, 6-2-0 College Hockey America) game-winning goal in sudden-death overtime came with just 0.1 seconds on the clock to knock off Syracuse (6-14-1, 5-2-1 CHA). If the Lakers offense took a fraction of a second longer, the game would have ended in a tie. Nevertheless, the Orange did end up losing, and will need to move on despite the inevitable “what-ifs” that accompany close losses like this one.
The night before, Syracuse obliterated Mercyhurst. The final score was 8-3, and the Lakers just could not find a way to quiet down the Orange offense. They were much more successful in the rematch. This time around, Mercyhurst controlled the tempo of the game pretty much all throughout. They did not let Syracuse dictate how this game would go. The Lakers finished the game with 13 more shots on goal, three more faceoff wins, and one more power play goal than the Orange.
Michele Robillard opened up the scoring for Mercyhurst 6:18 into the first period. Gabrielle Cox and Alexa Vasko assisted on the goal, and the rest of the 1st period was fairly uneventful. Going into the 1st intermission, the score was 1-0 Mercyhurst.
Syracuse clearly came out with a renewed energy in the 2nd period. Madison Beishuizen scored the first goal of the game for the home squad 6:10 into the 2nd period off an assist by Lauren Bellafontaine. Just over four minutes later, Mae Batherson tallied another one from the left circle to put SU up 2-1. The two quick goals started to evoke a similar feeling as the previous day. Mercyhurst would not go away this time though. Rachel Marmen scored her second goal of the year with 7:11 left in the period. Then Alexa Vasko cashed in on a power play opportunity to give the Lakers the lead with just 1:55 left, and the game was once again back into the hands of the visitors.
The 3rd period featured substantially less scoring opportunities for each team, and it seemed a 3-2 victory was in store for Mercyhurst. However, Syracuse’s Lindsey Eastwood played the role of hero by scoring an equalizer 6:52 into the period. Neither team had many more offensive threats for the remainder of the third, so overtime came up next.
The rules for college hockey stipulate a sudden-death five-minute period with each team having five players on the ice. Mercyhurst needed every last second of those five minutes. The puck seemed to be in the Orange defensive zone for the entire overtime session, but as the seconds began to tick away, a tie seemed to be in the cards. With less than ten seconds left, the teams remained knotted up at three, with Mercyhurst in possession. As the clock ticked under five, Gabrielle Cox gained possession of the puck in the corner. The freshman forward then delivered an unbelievable pass through the teeth of the Syracuse defense right to Maggie Knott who scored the game-winner with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
The loss drops SU to third place in the CHA, after a brief stay atop the standings the night before. On top of that, Coach Paul Flanagan will have to wait at least one more game before earning career victory number 400. He will get that chance this coming Friday when the Orange take on Robert Morris on the road.
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