Syracuse hockey shines in 6-0 victory over Lindenwood

Syracuse hockey shines in 6-0 victory over Lindenwood

Six different Orange players scored goals, while Allison Small and Amelia Van Vliet split the shutout to move on to semifinal game against Penn State.
Published: March 4, 2021
Syracuse women's ice hockey celebrates after beating Lindenwood 6-0 in the first round of the 2021 CHA Tournament.
Syracuse women's ice hockey celebrates after beating Lindenwood 6-0 in the first round of the 2021 CHA Tournament on Mar. 4, 2021.

Syracuse ice hockey’s journey to the CHA tournament was anything but easy. Thankful to just have a season, the 21 women on the team battled through growing pains and went on an unprecedented seven-game winning streak to end the regular season with a winning record. In those last games, 10 separate plays found the back of the net and goalie Allison Small had career performances to push her team to the postseason.

The Orange’s first round opponent was all too familiar – in a good way. Syracuse opened tournament play against Lindenwood, the same team they won three games in three days against and outscored 13-4. Still, head coach Paul Flanagan was wary of discounting the Lions prior to Thursday’s game.

Lindenwood and Syracuse lined up in the face-off circle, surrounded on all four sides by empty seats. Keeping with the success she saw in the regular season, Lauren Bellefontaine battled the puck to Syracuse’s side, but it was Lindenwood who got off the first shot of the game. Small pushed it aside with ease, and play moved to the other end.

Syracuse sent eight shots toward the Lindenwood goal early on, including a barrage of six shots off six different sticks on an Orange power play. The Lions successfully killed off Syracuse’s man-advantage but returning to full strength didn’t faze the Orange. Lindenwood’s Jan Jacobs sent a shot Small’s way, and Syracuse picked it up to go the other way.

Captain Kristen Siermachesky fired a shot toward Annika Asplundh from close to the blue line and fellow senior Victoria Klimek managed to get a piece of her stick on it upfront to grab the first goal of the game. Klimek, who was on a hot streak in Syracuse’s first few games, was visibly elated to pick up her seventh goal of the season and put the Orange up 1-0.

Nearly five minutes flew by as play rocked back and forth, with Small adding some highlight-reel-worthy saves to keep her team in the lead. With just under 10 minutes left in the opening frame, Jessica DiGirolamo skated into the zone, heading right for Asplundh. Klimek sent a feed from behind the net right to DiGirolamo’s tape, and she fired it in to give the Orange a two-goal lead.

That goal was DiGirolamo’s tenth of the season, but six of those were scored against this Lindenwood team.

Jessica DiGirolamo (22) collects the puck and skates it into the Lions zone during a game against Lindenwood in the CHA Tournament on Mar. 4, 2021.
Jessica DiGirolamo (22) collects the puck and skates it into the Lions zone during a game against Lindenwood in the CHA Tournament on Mar. 4, 2021.

The Orange couldn’t get another goal past Asplundh as the final minutes of the first ticked away, but they didn’t waste much time padding their lead in the second. Ten seconds in, Abby Moloughney had a backhand shot denied by the Lindenwood post. She recovered the puck, skated through traffic in center and fired off a slapshot that was impossible for Asplundh to get in the way of. Mae Batherson picked up the assist on Moloughney’s ninth of the season.

Rayla Clemons started her freshman season off strong, scoring two goals in her first career game. She followed that performance by getting assists in three of her next four games. But she had been held off the scoresheet since Syracuse’s 4-3 loss to Penn State on Dec. 11. That drought ended tonight.

Clemons picked up a pass from DiGirolamo and battled through a couple Lindenwood defenders to set Syracuse apart 4-0. It is Clemons’ third of the year. The four-goal deficit forced Lindenwood to put in Julia Maguire, a Mercyhurst transfer who had 40 saves in 35 minutes against Syracuse last season.

Lindenwood started playing sloppy, with back-to-back penalties giving the Orange a two-man advantage. It was only a matter of time until Syracuse added another goal to the scoreboard. Moloughney picked up the puck behind the net and skated it around to the bottom of the circle. She sent a pass Batherson’s way, and she shot from the center lane past Maguire. Syracuse went up 5-0.

With 3:11 on the clock, Lindenwood got its first advantage of the game when Marielle McHale was called for hooking. The Lions failed to capitalize, but Maguire stood tall as the final seconds of the penalty ticked down, stopping Anna Leschyshyn on a breakaway and blanking Tatum White’s rebound.

Hannah Alt picked up the puck and took a breakaway of her own down ice, but Small pushed it away, and Syracuse went into the second intermission up 5-0.

Syracuse could’ve called it a night with the five-goal lead, but that’s not this team’s style. Just over three minutes into the final frame, DiGirolamo fed a pass to Brynn Koocher, who sent home her second goal of the year. With nearly 17 minutes left to play, six different Syracuse players scored goals for the Orange.

With a solid six-goal safety net, Small headed to the bench and Amelia Van Vliet took over in net for Syracuse. This marked the first collegiate postseason play for the freshman netminder. Syracuse held off Lindenwood for the remainder of the game, and Small and Van Vliet split the shutout.

The Orange move on to the semifinal game against top seed Penn State at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5.