SU ice hockey unable to complete comeback against Mercyhurst

Syracuse ice hockey unable to complete comeback

The Orange faces too large of hill to climb with Lakers scoring three unanswered in first period.
Published: February 11, 2023 | Updated: February 12th, 2023 at 11:55 am
Syracuse number 22, Charlotte Hallett, launches the puck towards Mercyhurst goal February 11.
Syracuse's Charlotte Hallett (22) launches the puck toward the Mercyhurst goal during a College Hockey America game on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at Tennity Ice Pavilion.

A seeing-eye slapshot goal from the point followed by a tuck inside the post from in close, and before the Orange could blink, they were down 2-0 to Mercyhurst.

Mercyhurst (17-13-2, 9-3-2 CHA) scored two goals within the first five minutes and Syracuse (9-22-2, 6-9-1 CHA) wasn’t able to claw back, dropping the regular season CHA finale 4-2.

Finding success on the power play, the Orange made it a one-goal game with 1:20 to go, but the Lakers spoiled any hope of a comeback with an empty net tally shortly thereafter.

“This weekend, we played well for five out of six periods,” SU head coach Britni Smith said. “This time of year, we don’t have a period to take off anymore.”

Syracuse surrendered three goals and 19 shots in the first period. The team “wasn’t ready to play” and lacked focus in the first period, Smith said.

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Syracuse's Madison Primeau (20) battles Mercyhurst's Jordan Mortlock (8) for puck possession.

The Orange carried the pace of play in both the second and third periods, managing two goals in a game for the first time since Jan. 25 vs. RIT. In the second period, Syracuse capitalized on one of its six power play opportunities and then scored with a 6-on-5 advantage late in the third period with goaltender Arielle DeSmet off the ice.

“We talked in between periods about having a response. What type of team do we want to be?” Smith said. “I thought we did a good job in the second and third of just simplifying our game.”

Syracuse outshot the Lakers 23-20 in the final two periods. On a second-period power play, Sarah Thompson tucked home the rebound of a sharp, left-circle shot from Madison Primeau. The Syracuse power play was destined to break through, having applied serious pressure all throughout the period on the man advantage. 

A scrum in front of the Mercyhurst net resulted in the Orange’s second goal with forward Rhéa Hicks cleaning up the mess and drawing the Orange within one with precious seconds remaining on the clock. 

For the second consecutive game, it was a physical affair between Syracuse and Mercyhurst, featuring many scuffles in front of the net and even a game misconduct penalty from a Lakers player. While Syracuse commited just two penalties, Mercyhurst racked up eight of them.

“I’d say there’s a bit of animosity, it’s brewing,” SU forward Lauren Bellefontaine said. “But that happens. Once you play a team a lot, you start to know them better, and chirps go back and forth.”

The two teams are set to square off in the first round of the CHA playoffs. It’ll be the fifth time Syracuse plays Mercyhurst this season, but the Orange have been unable to win any of the matchups.

“I think we’re going to be going to war in the playoffs,” Syracuse forward Sarah Thompson said. “But it’s the hockey that we live for.”

Syracuse wraps up the regular season with Senior Night on Saturday against Stonehill College at 2 p.m.

SU player, Lauren Bellefontaine (8) and Mercyhurst Makayla Javier (11) battling for possesion at Tennity ice rink.
Syracuse's Lauren Bellefontaine (8) and Mercyhurst's Makayla Javier (11) race for possession of the puck.