Last second goal lifts Mercyhurst over Syracuse 2-1
Last second goal lifts Mercyhurst over Syracuse 2-1
Coming off a 5-2 loss against Mercyhurst on Friday, Syracuse women’s ice hockey had a quick turnaround to face the same tough team in a Saturday matinee game.
Tatum White recorded the first shot for the Orange, taking the puck down the right side off a faceoff and sending the puck from just past the blue line toward Mercyhurst’s Ena Nystrom, who stopped it with her chest pad. Both teams exchanged time in each other’s zones, but no one capitalized.
At 8:46 in the first, Kristen Siermachesky went to the box on the game’s first penalty. Siermachesky was called for interference after her and a Mercyhurst player took down Allison Small in her crease, but the ref kept his arm up and refused to blow the play dead while Small stayed down on the ice. All two minutes of penalty time ticked off the clock without interruption.
The gritty style from Friday night’s game continued into Saturday afternoon, with hard hits and chippy play from basically the first puck drop. With just under five minutes left in the opening period, two Syracuse players sandwiched a Mercyhurst player going after the puck. Lauren Bellefontaine headed to the box for only the second time this season as the 5-foot-6 junior forward was called for a bodycheck late in the period. Mercyhurst kept pressure on Small but she stood tall and the Orange fended off the Lakers to kill another penalty.
At the end of one period of play, both teams remained scoreless, but Mercyhurst edged out Syracuse with 10 shots on goal to Syracuse’s seven.
The Lakers opened the middle frame with four shots against Small before two minutes had even ticked off the clock. When action finally moved to the other side of the rink, the Orange received their first man advantage of the game when Calista Rowbottom was called for holding at 1:58. Like in yesterday’s game, Syracuse played tic-tac-toe with the puck for the majority of the power play and the Lakers sent it down ice to kill off the final 15 seconds.
With 13:50 still on the clock, Small swallowed another shot with her glove, but behind the net a referee caught Mercyhurst’s Sara Boucher on a crosscheck, and it was now the Lakers fighting off back-to-back penalties. Jessica DiGirolamo sent a shot from dead center towards Nystrom, but she stopped the puck and the Lakers briefly headed in Smalls’ direction with speed.
Mercyhurst returned to full strength and immediately charged down toward Small on a two-on-one. It looked like Chantal Ste-Croix would score the first goal of the game, but Syracuse’s senior netminder got a piece of the puck and it bounced off the post. Small and her defense stopped a barrage of stick-pokes before the Orange cleared the zone.
Both teams struggled to control the puck and finish passes, and with Nystrom and Small turning away every shot, the game remained tied at zero as the second period came to a close.
The Orange played a much stronger game in the middle frame, outshooting the Lakers 16-10. At the end of two, Abby Moloughney and Victoria Klimek led the team with three shots on goal apiece. Strong at the faceoff dot was Sarah Thompson, who won nine of 14 head-to-head battles.
Early in the third, both teams came out desperate to break the goal drought. After six minutes of intense back-and-forth play, Siermachesky went to the box again, this time for crosschecking, leaving her team to kill off a penalty with the scoreboard still blank. Small turned away four Lakers shots.
Bellefontaine won the faceoff in front of Small and skated down ice with speed. She sent a shot toward the Mercyhurst goal that bounced off Nystrom’s pads and directly to the stick of Mae Batherson, who blasted the puck over Nystrom’s shoulder for her first goal of the season. Bellefontaine and Moloughney nabbed the assists.
While Syracuse was still on a high from scoring the tie-breaking goal, Mercyhurst’s Boucher sent the puck past Small just 42 seconds after Batherson’s goal to tie the game once again, this time at one.
Action continued to heat up in the final ten minutes, with Liliane Perreault getting called for interference just over a minute after her teammate’s goal. Syracuse was unable to produce anything on the power play and both teams were at full strength for 13 seconds before Bellefontaine went to the box again for another interference call. The Orange penalty kill remained strong, killing off another two minutes down a player.
With 1:14 left in the period, Syracuse again went down a player, this time when Emma Polaski was called for goalie interference. The Orange cleared the puck twice, but as Bellefontaine chased down a Mercyhurst player, she tripped her, giving the Lakers a crucial two-man advantage with seconds left to play.
After pressure against Small, Mercyhurst’s Boucher managed to get the puck in the back of the net with less than a second remaining, and the Orange dropped the second game in the weekend series 2-1.
Small stopped 36 Mercyhurst shots on goal, while Syracuse sent 35 toward Nystrom. Seven shots on goal came from Moloughney, while Bellefontaine won 11 faceoffs. DiGirolamo blocked two shots and five other Orange players put themselves between the puck and the Syracuse crease.
Syracuse will travel to Lindenwood for a three-game series starting on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8:00 p.m.