IHOC : Orange defense stifles Connecticut attack in weekend sweep

first_img Comments After Syracuse was called for a two-minute bench minor for having too many players on the ice at 14:04 in the second period Friday, Connecticut desperately tried to break out on the power play to cut into the Orange’s two-goal lead.But Connecticut couldn’t even manage a shot and failed to capitalize on the power-play opportunity after SU freshman forward Shiann Darkangelo lay out at the top of the zone to block a shot just seconds before SU returned to full strength.‘We had a couple penalty kills, and it seemed like we blocked 10 shots out there,’ senior Jessica Sorensen said Saturday. ‘It definitely just got the spirit up on the bench, and we kept it going.’SU’s defense and penalty kill unit led the Orange (5-6-0, 0-0 College Hockey America) to a weekend sweep of Connecticut (1-7-2, 1-1-0 Hockey East), winning 4-0 Friday in front of 164 and 2-1 Saturday in front of 263 at Tennity Ice Pavilion. The Orange smothered the Huskies’ nine power-play opportunities on the weekend and set up the offensive attack to spark SU to both victories.The Syracuse defense frustrated Connecticut from the drop of the puck on Friday, relying on physicality to secure its first shutout of the season. The Huskies’ frustration was also the result of an improved effort from the Orange penalty kill, which was tested often throughout the weekend.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU frequently found itself with a player in the box in both games and blocked multiple shots to end UConn’s scoring threats. Syracuse spent 18 minutes with a one- or two-player disadvantage due to its nine penalties.The Orange’s success blocking shots started at practice on Monday, when the defense practiced blocking shots on the penalty kill by shooting rolls of masking tape at each other, a drill designed for players to tame their fear of getting hit by the puck. Just four days later, the defense implemented the technique to perfection against Connecticut.‘Of course it’s fun in practice when you’re shooting tape at each other,’ freshman forward Allie LaCombe said. ‘But the concept is actually smart because you have to train yourself not to be afraid of the puck.’The SU defenders played composed during penalty kills and kept everything in front of them by maintaining good positioning. And as they had practiced with rolls of tape days earlier, the defenders frustrated Connecticut’s ‘BU-style’ power play, which isolates a player on the weakside for a one-time slap shot. They interfered with shooting lanes, which forced the Huskies’ forwards to shoot the puck wide of the net.That aggressive blocking technique was on display when Darkangelo and the SU defense stifled the UConn power play on Friday.On Saturday, Syracuse fended off another important Connecticut power-play opportunity when the Orange had two players sent to the box early in the second period. The defense pulled out all the stops on the two-player disadvantage and kept the Huskies’ lead to one goal. ‘You seize the momentum by killing that five-on-three, and we did a great job,’ head coach Paul Flanagan said. ‘That’s a lot of hard work and great goaltending.’Flanagan and his players credited the tremendous defensive play to their much improved penalty kill effort. The Orange was clicking defensively, which led to quality shots and possessions on the offensive end. The SU defensive effort was backed by solid play between the pipes. The Orange’s two-goalie system, with sophomores Kallie Billadeau and Jenesica Drinkwater, kept the Huskies’ forwards in check and made 17 saves and 22 saves, respectively. They also sparked the offense with outlet passes that Flanagan called ‘textbook cycling.’But the Syracuse defenders’ biggest contribution came on the penalty kill. They blocked plenty of shots when they needed to and helped the Orange overcome its mistakes to beat the Huskies.‘We made mistakes, but we recovered well, and that’s a good sign,’ Flanagan said. ‘We had a great attitude for 60 minutes.’[email protected] Published on October 30, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *