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Saturday, Jan 26, 2019 at 1:12 am

Team Effort in Fast-Paced Game Leads to Win Over Penn State

By David Edelstein

CitrusTV Ice Hockey Reporter

Six days after having a mid-game meltdown that resulted in a loss tainted with 26 penalty minutes, Syracuse (6-17-1, 6-5-0 College Hockey America) made a 180-degree turn, putting together a strong team effort that resulted in a highly contested 2-1 win over Penn State (10-9-4, 4-6-0).

On offense, the Orange set the tone first. Jessica DiGirolamo scored 9:15 into the game on a shot through the legs of Nittany Lions goalie Jenna Brenneman to open the scoring. Brooke Avery scored with 5:34 to go in the second period to give SU a 2-0 lead.

On defense, Syracuse had 20 blocked shots—tying its third-most on the season—in front of goalie Maddi Welch, who had her second-most saves of the season with 33.

“Maddi was a wall today. She played really, really well. I mean, rebound control was amazing, so that really helped us out on defense,” forward Kelli Rowswell said.

“Honestly, when the team’s blocking shots, you know, coming up with big stops, too, that’s all you can ask for, and that was huge today,” Welch said. “It was a great team win.”

It was also a relatively clean game with a total of seven minor penalties (five power plays) and none in the first period.

“I think for us, we probably just match up pretty well,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “Our kids must feel confident, and that’s a lot if it too. So much of it is psychological.”

While the Orange picked up right where they left off with the Nittany Lions in November—with a win—Flanagan and the Orange said that Penn State is a much improved team since the last time they played one another.

“I thought they were more aggressive. They moved the puck. They had a lot more energy,” Flanagan said. “They were trying to take us to the outside. I thought they were skating better… They just seemed more determined.”

“They work really hard and we know that, and we know we have to match their intensity, too, and that’s huge for us. We know they’re one of the hardest working teams in our league,” Welch said.

“They were definitely smarter. I remember, we played them a while ago, it was easier to forecheck them in a way. If you just get on the puck and give them a hard time, they’d cough it up,” said Anonda Hoppner, who scored the game winning goals in both games against the Nittany Lions in November. “Tonight they were supporting each other a lot better.”

A lot of the visual improvement Penn State showed came down to their passing game. Upon regaining control of the puck, the Nittany Lions often brought the puck toward the near boards in the neutral zone and then passed the puck from blue line to blue line to a player near the benches.

“I just think they were breaking up the puck well, and they were coming down the ice, they were looking for people open on the ice,” Welch said.

Syracuse has won all three games played against Penn State so far this year, and SU has its second win in the last three games following a 10-game losing streak.

The Orange will go for the regular season sweep on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

dzedelst@syr.edu | @davidzedelstein