Syracuse ice hockey struggles in 5-2 loss to Mercyhurst

Syracuse ice hockey struggles in 5-2 loss to Mercyhurst

Abby Moloughney earned her 60th career point in the loss.
Published: February 5, 2021
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Syracuse's Abby Moloughney (13) fights off a Mercyhurst player during a battle to the puck.

Coming off a 3-0 win on Wednesday night against RIT, the Syracuse women’s ice hockey team skated out in a fierce search for their fourth win of the season as win percentage is now the determining factor of who gets a spot in the playoffs.

Syracuse knocked out the Lakers in the 2019 CHA Tournament semifinal matchup and went on to win the championship game that same year.

Lauren Bellefontaine won the face off for Syracuse and the Orange were offensively strong early on. But Mercyhurst was first to add to the scoreboard just over two minutes into the first period when Chantal Ste-Croix popped a wrap-around past Allison Small. The goal was Ste-Croix’s third of the season and Jersey Phillips and Liliane Perrault picked up assists on the play.

For a team that has struggled to play a full 60 minutes the entire season, this looked to be a repeat of Wednesday’s game as they were unable to get on the board until the second period in their battle against RIT.

“I think we’ve come a long way in terms of bridging that gap from start to finish and playing more of a 60-minute game,” head coach Paul Flanagan said before Friday’s game. “Last night was 40. Obviously, it’s going to be so critical for us to get back…and see if we can play 60 solid minutes.”

Syracuse dominated on the faceoff, winning 13 of 20 in the first period but struggled in terms of getting solid scoring chances out in front of the net.

Abby Moloughney and Jessica DiGirolamo led the Orange in shots on goal in the first, earning five and four, respectively.

After spending two minutes ripping shots at Ena Nystrom on the power play, the Orange were still unable to even the score at one. But Syracuse’s penalty kill looked strong though as they kept Mercyhurst moving during their two back-to-back penalties and kept their deficit to one.

A breakaway attempt by the Orange while being two players down looked promising with a last-minute look and pass over to Bellefontaine in front of the net, but the goal did not go.

Syracuse almost grabbed their first point of the game with just over a second left in the first, but a hand pass ruling prior to the potential tally reversed the call and the well-fought first frame came to an end with the Orange down one.

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Orange goaltender Allison Small drops to butterfly to prevent a rebound from going in.

Syracuse’s defense struggled early in the second, similar to that of the first, but Small stood tall and stopped most of Mercyhurst’s many chances.

Tempers began to flare around halfway through the second as Syracuse began to lay on the offensive pressure and Sara Boucher and Summer-Rae Dobson in Mercyhurst sweaters were sent to the penalty box.

While the Orange had plenty of solid scoring opportunities with the two- then one-player advantage, Nystrom proved to be too strong for Syracuse’s offensive efforts in the Laker zone.

Though Kristen Siermachesky picked up two minutes for tripping immediately after, both teams successfully killed their penalties and Mercyhurst maintained their 1-0 lead.

But full-strength play was the sweet spot for the Lakers as they added one more to their scoreboard advantage with 6:20 remaining in the second period. Emily Pinto logged her second of the season with an assist from Kromer and just like that, the Orange had two to make up with just over 26 minutes to go in the contest.

Things heated up on the ice as both teams were growing increasingly restless with under a minute to go in the second. Syracuse wanted and needed to score and Mercyhurst did not like seeing them try. But the Lakers won that battle as they both headed to the locker room with a 2-0 Mercyhurst lead.

DiGirolamo took the lead over Moloughney in shots on goal following the second period, picking up three more from her tally in the first.

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Syracuse captain Jessica DiGirolamo (22) struggles past a Mercyhurst player to grab the puck in the Orange defensive zone.

Heading into the final frame, the Orange had one last 20-minute chance to overcome their two-goal deficit and add another win to the column.

Pinto flew down the short side and with a quick pass over to Boucher, she popped it right past Small for her second of the game. The Lakers were not finished as under a minute later, a frustrated Syracuse defense and Small saw yet another goal slide in by a Mercyhurst player. Calista Rowbottom logged her first goal of the season on the team’s fourth goal of the night and Pinto picked up an additional point on the night after collecting the secondary assist alongside Alexa Vasco who had the primary.

Small was removed from net following the last goal and Amelia Van Vliet entered for Syracuse to play the remainder of the game.

A complete flip from the game Syracuse saw earlier this week, Pinto picked up her third goal of the season, her second of the night and the fifth for Mercyhurst in this matchup 5:22 into the third period.

Moloughney was finally able to capitalize on one of her many shots on goal of the game, sending a stand-alone floater right past Nystrom for her fifth of the season. The first and only Syracuse tally of the night was assisted by Madison Beishuizen and DiGirolamo with under six to go in regulation. With the goal, Moloughney tallied her 60th career point.

Emma Polaski chipped the puck toward the net that was deflected by Nystrom and Brynn Koocher was there in front to pop it right over the left pad of the Mercyhurst netminder with 1:07 to go. That goal was the first of the season for the sophomore forward.

Unfortunately, the Orange comeback came too late in the game and as the clock wound down to zero, Mercyhurst took home the 5-2 win over Syracuse.

Syracuse looks to split the series back on home ice Saturday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m.