Syracuse vs. St. Lawrence Preview
By Chilekasi Adele
CitrusTV Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse Women’s Ice Hockey will travel north to Canton, N.Y. this weekend to open their 2021-22 campaign against St. Lawrence.
For Head Coach Paul Flanagan, this weekend’s matchup is a return home. The Canton native graduated from St. Lawrence in 1980 and got his master’s degree twelve years later from the same university.
As an assistant coach for the Saints men’s team, Flanagan helped St. Lawrence win two ECAC championships — in addition to being on the coaching staff for three NCAA tournament appearances.
Flanagan was named the St. Lawrence women’s ice hockey coach in 1999 and remained in that role until 2008. He finished his tenure there with 230 wins, and brought the Saints to the “Frozen Four” five times, including four consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2007.
St. Lawrence has sat slightly under .500 their last three seasons — but they’ve been perfect against the Orange.
Syracuse and St. Lawrence did not play in last year’s truncated season but faced off twice in the 2019-20 season. Syracuse lost both of those games — an overtime loss in November of 2019, and a 3-1 loss in January of 2020. Syracuse was shutout 4-0 in 2018 by St. Lawrence in a neutral tournament game in Vermont. They also lost a close game to the Saints in October of 2015.
Syracuse’s last win against St. Lawrence came on February 4th, 2014. The Orange won in a 3-0 shutout, with goals scored by Cara Johnson (2) and Allie LaCombe.
What do all of these scorelines mean? Flanagan and the Orange have only won 1 game against the head coach’s former squad.
St. Lawrence began their season with a win and a tie against a very good Penn State team. The Nittany Lions finished last year with a 16-3-2 record, losing to Syracuse in the CHA semifinals 3-2.
The Saints finished 6-7 last season. If last year’s shortened season is any indicator, they will have the advantage this weekend at Appleton Arena in Canton.
St. Lawrence was 4-1 at home last season, and 2-6 on the road. The difference in home versus road records wasn’t as drastic in the 2019-20 season as it was in the 2020-21 season, but the Saints amassed a 7-2-6 home record in the 2018-19 season, compared with a 5-12-1 road record.
KEY: BEATING SLOW STARTS
Being down on the road early doesn’t help the Orange. In their only preseason matchup against RPI, Syracuse got down early 2-0, and only climbed out of that hole to lose late.
That sequence was a microcosm of Syracuse’s entire 2020-21 campaign. The Orange were 2-4-1 in their first seven games, sprinting towards the end of the season with seven straight wins only to fall short in the championship game.
If the Orange want to get off to a good start this weekend, the message is clear — they must come firing out of the gates.
Paul Flanagan almost led his team out of nothing to its second CHA tournament championship in three years. If they get out from the jump, this season could be a very successful one.
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