Ice Hockey

Syracuse advances to 3rd straight CHA title game with 4-0 drubbing of RIT

Courtesy of Mario Pasco | CHA

Syracuse players celebrate next to the RIT goal right after scoring. The Orange thoroughly dominated the game, outshooting the Tigers 42-13 in the 4-0 victory.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In December, after Syracuse blew a two-goal lead to tie with Rochester Institute of Technology, SU head coach Paul Flanagan lamented his team’s performance. “One of the worst defeats I’ve been around,” Flanagan said on Dec. 2nd. “It was an awful hockey game. Brutal. Just brutal.”

In the three meetings between the schools since then, SU has outscored the Tigers, 10-2, while registering 59 more shots on net. In the HarborCenter on Friday night in the conference semifinals, Syracuse piled on four more goals and 42 shots to its impressive totals.

The dominance over RIT continued for Syracuse (16-12-5, 14-4-2 College Hockey America) as the team that started the season 0-4-2 advanced to a third straight CHA title game, smothering the Tigers (7-27-2, 4-14-2), 4-0. The Orange overwhelmed by controlling the offensive zone, tiring out RIT and peppering Tigers goalie Jenna de Jonge with shots throughout the night.

“We really wanted to go after them and make their (defense) work,” Flanagan said. “Eliminate their game and maybe try to spring people.”

Despite owning possession and shots in the first period, Syracuse couldn’t capitalize on any of its numerous scoring chances. It wouldn’t matter.

In a span of 1:35 in the middle of the second period, Syracuse finally displayed the domination on the scoreboard. First, Heather Schwarz tucked away a rebound on the doorstep from Megan Quinn’s blast. 1-0. Then as RIT tried to clear the zone, an SU poke check had the puck pinballing from skate to skate where it eventually found Kelli Rowswell’s stick. All alone in the slot she fired on net, bouncing the puck off de Jonge’s shoulder and just by her glove, 2-0.

The Orange was able to pin RIT in the defensive zone for upwards of one or even two minutes multiple times. The zone control enabled SU to frequently change and keep fresh skaters and shooters on the ice while RIT’s skaters were trapped, left to toil away, chasing pass after pass.

“Being on the offensive side of it,” Quinn said, “it’s fun. It’s fun keeping them in and making them work around and getting them tired.”

With 18:14 left in the game, Quinn delivered another goal. Allie Munroe tacked on a power-play goal securing the commanding victory.

“Being able to play so well and dominate them as much as we did was huge,” goalie Abbey Miller said. “Hopefully we can keep it going for tomorrow.”

The title game is familiar territory for SU. Every player and coach for Syracuse remembers that agony of losing the CHA Title in overtime to Mercyhurst last year. They recall the sting of dropping the title bout to RIT just twelve months before that.

Since starting a program and joining the CHA in 2008, SU has been to five conference title games. Drubbing RIT was just another opportunity to get back to there. Syracuse found a way to change the narrative against the Tigers this season. Now, it has to do that in the season’s biggest game.

“There’s a lot of disappointment,” Flanagan said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to come up with a ‘W.’”

After the win, Syracuse players emerged from the locker room all wearing the same shirt. Navy blue with “BTC” emblazoned in big orange letters across the front.

“BTC” has been a motto for Syracuse during the season, taking on many secret meanings. For this weekend, there is one they revealed.

“Break the cycle.”

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