Syracuse Fights for Flanagan’s 400th Win
By John Dales
Citrus TV Women’s Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
Win number 400 for Syracuse (7-15-1, 6-3-1 College Hockey America) head coach Paul Flanagan did not come easily. His team battled with Robert Morris (13-9-2, 7-3-0 CHA) for upwards of 43 minutes on Saturday afternoon before either squad could score a goal. That goal did eventually come, though when SU freshman Brynn Koocker snuck one past Colonials goalie Raygan Kirk 3:37 into the final period of play. That score did more than enough to inspire the Orange defense to finish what they started. Syracuse was able to complete the shutout against the same team that put up five goals on them the night before.
Early on, this game looked like a continuation of the contest these two teams played on Friday night. Robert Morris controlled the tempo of the game throughout the first period, and that led to more scoring opportunities than the Orange. The Colonials finished the 1st period with 12 shots on goal, compared to five from Syracuse. Nevertheless, SU goalie Allison Small was able to turn away all of those shots to blank the home squad in the opening period. Syracuse’s lack of opportunities on the other end yielded the same result, and the score was 0-0 through 20 minutes.
The 2nd period is where this game really escalated in RMU’s favor. With 7:54 left in the period, Syracuse forward Emma Polaski was whistled for tripping, and the Colonials had a power play. SU’s stifling defense kept the Robert Morris power play in check, and the score remained 0-0. However just after killing off that penalty, another one was called against ‘Cuse, and the Orange found themselves down an attacker for two more minutes. In the midst of that penalty kill, yet another whistle went against Syracuse, and the Orange found themselves in a 5 on 3 scenario. In maybe the most impressive defensive showing of the season, SU blanked Robert Morris on said penalty kill and the rest of the way into the 2nd intermission. Improbably, the game remained scoreless after two periods.
In the third period, it seemed something had to give. Both teams were playing fantastic defense, but someone had to score eventually. That person ended up being Syracuse’s Koocher with 16:23 to play. This marked the fifth goal of the season for the freshman forward, and it could not have come in a bigger moment. That goal proved to be the difference-maker, as the Orange blanked the Colonials the rest of the way to earn a gritty 1-0 victory. Syracuse goalie Allison Small finished the contest with 32 saves.
This win is extra notable because it is the 400th in SU head coach Paul Flanagan’s career. Flanagan has been at the helm of the Syracuse women’s ice hockey program since March of 2008, and is one of the winningest coaches in all of college hockey. His team remains in third place in the CHA, but only sit one point behind the first place tandem Robert Morris and Mercyhurst. SU comes back home to the confines of the Tennity Ice Pavilion for a weekend doubleheader against Penn State this coming Friday and Saturday.
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