Ice Hockey

Abbey Miller breaks single-season shutout record in Syracuse’s 2-0 win over RIT

Leigh Ann Rodgers | Staff Photographer

Abbey Miller now holds the program record for shutouts in a season, with eight.

Abbey Miller’s performance on Saturday wasn’t flashy and she wasn’t called upon often, but every time she faced a shot on Saturday, she stopped it. Miller recorded her seventh shutout, becoming the first-ever SU goalie to record seven shutouts in a season.

“It starts with her,” Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said. “It kind of goes out from there. We had some real nice defensive plays.”

The Orange’s netminder now holds the season shutout record as Syracuse (13-12-5, 12-4-2 College Hockey America) handled Rochester Institute of Technology (6-24-2, 4-12-2), 2-0, at Tennity Ice Pavilion. Miller passed Kallie Billadeau’s 2012-13 mark of six shutouts by facing only eight shots and playing behind and a stout defensive effort. With the win, Syracuse clinched a first-round bye in the CHA tournament.

“Our PK was unbelievable,” Miller said. “(RIT) couldn’t get anything going.”

The defense that Miller lauded after her shutout dominated RIT in the first period, holding the Tigers to only one first period shot. RIT struggled all game to get to scoring areas. On countless zone entries, SU defenders timed a poke check perfectly and sent the puck down toward the boards and into the corner, or back out across the blueline.

Even when RIT got a look at Miller, Dakota Derrer, Lindsay Eastwood or Larissa Martyniuk swooped in and either knocked the puck away or sold out to block a shot. The closest the Tigers came was when Cassie Clayton hit the post. By the end of the game, RIT had recorded only eight shots on net.

Being inactive for long stretches of the game can be a struggle for goalies, as Miller didn’t face any real chances for upward of six or seven minutes at a time. But the junior kept herself in the game by constantly talking in a quarterback-like fashion to teammates.

“I almost talk to myself, they probably can’t hear me,” Miller said. “Telling them if there’s open people, if there is D-to-D, stuff like that.”

Even when RIT got a breakaway opportunity, Miller and the Orange defense held strong. With 4:16 left to play in the game and SU up by two, Martyniuk intentionally tripped the RIT skater behind her and headed to the box. After the game, Flanagan said it was a “good penalty” because it very likely could have saved a goal.

Then the Orange penalty kill went to work. The special teams unit has easily been Syracuse’s most consistent tool this season and it once again disrupted the oppositions every move. SU went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill Saturday and RIT generated only four shots on six total powerplays.

“You take that chance,” Flanagan said, “and take the call to not give her a shot on net and rely on our PK which did a really good job.”

After the game, once the gaggle of parents and friends had dispersed from outside the locker room, Miller credited SU’s penalty kill, forechecking, backchecking and shot blocking. Even as her boyfriend congratulated her on her record feat, she shrugged it off.

“It wasn’t really that huge for me,” Miller said.

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