Syracuse hockey bounces back to beat Penn State 4-2

SU hockey beats Penn State 4-2

The Orange score three unanswered goals against Nittany Lions in first win since Thanksgiving weekend.
Published: December 12, 2020 | Updated: January 20th, 2021 at 11:09 am
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SU freshman Sarah Thompson collects the puck before entering Penn State's zone during an afternoon game at Tennity Ice Pavillion on Dec. 12, 2020. Thompson scored the first goal of the game for Syracuse.

With three out of four games against Penn State complete, Syracuse women’s ice hockey had already seen plenty of defeat – a loss, an overtime loss and a tie. Now, they were looking for their first win against their CHA rival in the Nittany Lions.

Things weren’t looking good for the Orange off-the-bat when PSU stuck first. Olivia Wallin found a way past Syracuse’s Allison Small to put the Nittany Lions up 1-0 at 11:23 in the first period. But after two faceoffs won by Penn State, Victoria Klimek charged the net, bouncing a shot off Josie Bothun that Sarah Thompson collected from Emma Polaski and pushed into the Nittany Lions net for the equalizer.

With the game now tied, Syracuse’s play turned sloppy, getting called for three penalties before the end of the frame. Tatum White went to the box for cross-checking at 13:25, and just five seconds later, Jessica DiGirolamo joined her after receiving a slashing penalty.

Small sent away four shots as Syracuse successfully killed the two practically simultaneous penalties. It was Klimek who entered the sin bin next, getting caught for another Syracuse cross-check that left the Orange a man down with 2:20 remaining in the first.

“Two of the three were offensive zone penalties which are no-no’s but just trying to be aggressive and get in there, and those things happen,” said head coach Paul Flanagan. “That’s a full two-minute 5-on-3. If you can kill that, the bench is up and everyone’s pulling together. Sometimes that makes or breaks a game.

“When you kill it, it’s equally as important momentum wise and that really worked in our favor. A lot of tight games, one goal games, special teams are going to be very indicative at the end of the day and it certainly was today. I give our penalty killers a lot of credit just making good reads. A lot of that starts with Allison making a save and the defensive players who were making good decisions.”

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Syracuse's Abby Moloughney fends off a Penn State player before scoring a tying goal for the Orange during a game at Tennity Ice Pavillion on Dec. 12, 2020.

Small turned away 12 Penn State shots by the end of the first.

For a team that has proven to be strongest in the first frame this season, Syracuse exploded in the second period with heavy pressure in Penn State’s zone. The Orange sent ten shots Bothun’s way before Penn State even got one shot off. But that’s all the Nittany Lions needed, as Wallin netted her second of the night on Penn State’s first chance of the period.

At 7:43 in the second, Abby Moloughney found the back of the net to tie the game yet again. That marked the third goal of the season for Moloughney, who had two in Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Nittany Lions.

Shortly after, following some pushing and shoving in front of the Penn State crease, Polaski and PSU’s Lyndie Lobdell sat two minutes for matching roughing calls. Moloughney had another good chance as DiGirolamo kicked the puck away from a Penn State player and took it up ice before passing it along to her teammate, but both teams returned to 5-on-5 hockey without a goal.

Neither team could score a tie breaker, and the game remained tied at two a piece at the end of two. Syracuse outshot Penn State 30-11 in the middle frame, with 20 of those being shots on goal.

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Syracuse alternate captain Emma Polaski gave the Syracuse a one goal advantage in the third with her third of the season during a game against Penn State on Dec. 12, 2020.

The Orange got their first extra-man advantage of the game early in the third when Penn State’s Izzy Heminger was called for hooking. Syracuse capitalized, and Polaski tapped in an unassisted powerplay goal to put her team up by one – their first time not playing catch-up in the game.

It was now the Nittany Lions who were playing sloppy, with a slashing call against them shortly after Polaski’s goal. The Orange kept pressure in the Penn State zone, but on the Nittany Lions’ first clear, Penn State’s Rene Gangarosa took the chance at a breakaway shot that Small stopped and covered with ease.

Penn State pulled their goalie late in the third, but it was too late. After holding off the Nittany Lions for nearly 16 minutes since Polaski’s goal, Klimek grabbed the puck and skated down ice, netting an empty netter with 11 seconds left to secure the victory for the Orange.

Polaski and Klimek led the team with two points apiece, each a goal and an assist.

Small finished the game with 34 saves and a .944 save percentage. Syracuse had 46 shots on goal compared to Penn State’s 36, with 10 shots from DiGirolamo and seven from Moloughney. Lauren Bellefontaine won 20 faceoffs and blocked two shots in the victory.

“I think Lauren was 20 and 9 on faceoffs,” said coach Flanagan. “She quietly played great game with a lot of those little things. I think those two [Lauren and Abby] kind of feed off each other. Some of Abby’s success, you can kind of credit Lauren and vice versa.”

Overall, Flanagan was happy with his team’s performance in their final game of the four-game series against Penn State, and was glad to go into break with a win.

“From our perspective, the kids answered the bell at the start of the second period and really continued it to the very end. The big thing was energy but having a pretty good focus.”

Avatar for Alyssa Hertel

is the Sports Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.