Women’s ice hockey rebound to win Penn State rematch

SU Women's ice hockey beat Penn State

Orange split the weekend series with Nittany Lions with 3-1 victory Saturday.
Published: January 25, 2020
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Savannah Rennie, who had a goal and assist Saturday, lines up for a face-off against Penn State. Rennje won 75 percent of her face-offs during the game.

Kelli Rowswell didn’t wait for the public address announcer to finish. In a blink, the puck was shuffled from Savannah Rennie to Jessica DiGirolamo to Rowswell. As Victoria Klimek’s goal was being announced 52 seconds earlier, Rowswell helped Syracuse find the back of the net again.

The Syracuse bench and fans alike, who had just sat down from celebrating Klimek’s goal, arose once again. As music blasted from the speakers, SU’s line took another lap to the bench for high fives.

Rowswell’s goal gave the Orange a 2-1 advantage midway through the second period, a lead they would never relinquish. Despite being outshot in every stanza and finishing the game trailing Penn State (10-10-6 5-4-3 College Hockey America), 40-24, in the category, Syracuse (8-16-1, 7-4-1 CHA) came away with a 3-1 win on Saturday to split the weekend series with the Nittany Lions.

“I actually think we performed, start to finish, better last night,” said SU head coach Paul Flanagan, after the game. “Allison (Small) was called on to make some big saves. I think that was the big difference.”

After allowing a goal early on in the second period, Small settled down and delivered the best performance of her career. The Nestleton, Ontario native finished the day with a career-best of 39 saves, including at least 12 in each period. Small’s riding a hot streak as of late, having risen her save percentage every single game since Nov. 16. That stretch includes a pair of shutouts, highlighted by a 32-save, 0-goal masterpiece against Robert Morris last weekend.

SU women's ice hockey goalie Allison Small
Orange goalie Allison Small looks on as play occurs at the opposite end of the ice Saturday. Small totaled a career-high 39 saves in the win over the Nittany Lions.

“She made some big saves. Not only the first save, but they’d get the rebound, get a second chance,” Flanagan said. “That happened three or four times.”

But her performance lacked offensive support early on in the contest, as Syracuse failed to capitalize on any of its 12 first-quarter attempts and was held scoreless through the first half of the second period. That’s when Klimek came through, taking a pass from DiGirolamo and converting to tie the game at 1. The goal was Klimek’s sixth of the season, as the junior forward inches closer to her career-high of eight goals as a freshman.

Rowswell’s follow-up goal moments later gave SU its first lead of the game, but Penn State kept attacking. The Nittany Lions got off 20 shots during the remainder of the contest but Small snuffed them all out, and an empty net goal by Savannah Rennie iced the game for good for the Orange.

“It’s tough. You gotta battle,” Flanagan said. “The second period, that was a big question mark…third period, we responded pretty well.”