Syracuse sticking with Abbey Miller despite weekend benching

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Abbey Miller slowly skated off the ice after Syracuse fell in overtime to Providence, 3-2, on Oct. 14. The defeat capped off a six-game stretch to begin the season in which Miller stopped 184 out of the 199 shots she faced.After the game, head coach Paul Flanagan stressed that the Orange couldn’t keep draining Miller night after night and instead needed to keep its senior goalie rested and healthy. Against then-No. 9 Northeastern the next weekend, it only took Flanagan 20 minutes to make his move.Miller was pulled after giving up three goals in three minutes to the Huskies in the first period. Sophomore Ady Cohen was inserted into the game to begin the second period, marking the first time all season that the Orange (1-6-1) had someone other than Miller guard the net.After giving up two goals in the final two periods, Cohen was replaced by Maddi Welch the following day. Despite a goalie situation seemingly in turmoil, Flanagan maintains that Miller will start against No. 3 Boston College (4-0-1) on Nov. 4.“She’s our starter going forward, for sure,” Flanagan said. “She had taken the bulk of our games up until (then)…it was, from my perspective, a good chance to play the other two on a weekend.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat was Cohen and Welch’s only time in net all year, as the former set a career-high in minutes and the latter started the sixth game of her career. The two played as well as they could have, considering that they were coming off the bench for the first time all year, Flanagan said.While the two may not have won the starting job, they are still playing for the backup gig, a position that will be determined in the coming weeks, Flanagan said. For Welch, Saturday was an exciting way to get her season started, despite the loss to Northeastern.“It was nice to just finally get out there,” Welch said. “Kind of get my feet under me, back into the games. I think I still have a chance (to start) … I never go into a game thinking I’m never gonna play.”Miller and Welch had a similar battle a season ago, fighting for the starting job last season before Miller ultimately seized the job and set the SU career shutout record in a single season. Led by Miller, who won the Goaltending trophy — awarded for the lowest goals against average in the conference — and earned second-team all-conference honors, the Orange made it all the way to the College Hockey America title game before falling to Robert Morris, 2-0.With a full year of experience as a starter, Miller entered this season with more confidence, Flanagan said. Losses to top-ranked Wisconsin may have tested the Minnesota native physically, but mentally, it only helped Miller.“Playing two top teams right off the bat, especially when you do well against them, gives you confidence going into the rest of the season,” Miller said on Oct. 10 about opening the season against the Badgers and Bemidji State.Despite having the confidence to do so, the idea of playing every game is a near-impossible task for a collegiate goalie. To date this season, Miller has played the sixth-most minutes in the country and was one of only six goalies to have played in seven games.This extended playing time, in addition to the 1,827 minutes Miller logged a season ago, were reason enough for Flanagan to make the change, despite Miller arguing otherwise.“I’m just very competitive in general, just not wanting to lose,” Miller said. “Obviously I want to play every single game, but realistically that’s not really possible.”With two weeks of rest and training before its matchup against Boston College, Syracuse is using a combination of off-days and conditioning to get ready. After a weekend in which she watched her team from the bench for the first time since Jan. 10, Miller thinks the extended break will prepare her to face one of the top teams in the nation.“It was unfortunate that I didn’t really play my best Friday night and then didn’t really get to redeem myself Saturday,” Miller said. “I’ve been talking to coach, giving me that mental break, at the end of the day, it was good.” Comments Published on October 26, 2017 at 12:42 am Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img read more