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Through Syracuse’s first 10 games of the season, it had a 3-5-2 record and a -8 goal differential. Outside of an overtime loss to Clarkson, the Orange lost every game by at least two goals, including a 7-1 loss to then-No. 3 Colgate.
Once the College Hockey America season began, SU started facing mostly conference opponents like RIT, Mercyhurst and Penn State. The Orange started to pick up more wins, with crucial victories like a dominant 6-3 victory over the Nittany Lions, but they still finished 2021 with a 6-9-4 record.
Since then, the Orange have gone 7-1-2, which included a two-game sweep at the “Battle at the Burgh” tournament and led to the program’s first regular-season CHA title in history.
Some of the issues that plagued Syracuse early on vanished, as the offense has seen its top forwards go on hot streaks. But as the Orange head into the playoffs, other problems still remain.
Here are the statistics that break down Syracuse’s recent success en route to the number one seed in the conference:
Abby Moloughney’s dominant play since the start of 2022
Even when the Orange’s offense was struggling early on, Moloughney was their best offensive weapon. But since the beginning of January, Moloughney has led all Syracuse forwards with 13 points. Moloughney has had eight multi-point games this season, with half of them coming in January. She is SU’s only skater in the NCAA’s top 50 point scorers and ranks sixth in points, fifth in points per game and fourth in goals per game in the CHA.
In the “Battle of the Burgh,” Moloughney scored at least one goal each game. After a 19-day gap between opponents, Moloughney scored twice in two games against RIT, finishing with four points on the weekend. Six days later against Lindenwood, Moloughney scored her 13th goal of the season in Syracuse’s 6-1 victory.
The depth is starting to score, too
While Moloughney has been generally consistent in points production this season, it has often been a challenge for the rest of the Orange to generate secondary scoring. In the first nine games of the year, Moloughney was the only Syracuse player in the CHA’s top 10 for points. Sarah Marchand and Lauren Bellefontaine were the only two players besides Moloughney who even cracked the conference’s top 20.
But during 2022, Syracuse hasn’t had to rely solely on its top scorers. In the last five games, Moloughney hasn’t scored, and the Orange saw six different players score against the Nittany Lions and the Lakers.
That doesn’t mean the top scorers haven’t produced, but Marchand, who had already established herself as an elite passer, has posted five multi-point games since December, scoring 13 points.
In the Jan. 21-22 weekend series against RIT, Marchand took 12 shots and fellow freshman Madison Primeau has also taken the jump as a first-year player with 10 goals this season.
“(The freshmen’s) contributions are important,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “I’m very happy with them, and I’ve really seen them get better and better.”
Victoria Klimek’s recent offensive production has been crucial for the Orange. In November, Klimek was nowhere near the conference’s top 10 point-scorers list. After recording a hat trick against Penn State in November, Klimek has begun the new year scoring 10 points and leads the Orange with 51 shots.
“She scores lots of goals and always takes really nice shots,” Moloughney said. “You want to follow her because of the way that she plays on the ice.”
Her recent offensive success has also come in big moments, as Klimek scored the game-winning goal against Lindenwood on Jan. 29 and sealed Syracuse’s win over Mercyhurst with an empty-net goal on Saturday.
While Syracuse’s offense has significantly improved, its defense has remained inconsistent. Even during its eight-game unbeaten streak, it allowed many shots and subsequent goals. In the Orange’s February series at Penn State, SU allowed a combined 101 shots in the two games but only conceded two goals after goaltender Arielle DeSmet recorded the second-most saves in a single game in program history (54), in the second game.
Megan Thompson | Design Editor
The number of shots and the few goals the Orange were allowing were not sustainable, however, eventually breaking down against the Lakers, where they lost 9-0, their worst loss since 2018.
Allison Small, who came in for DeSmet after the first period, conceded six goals. She has been in and out of the lineup during the season, dealing with injuries, but in the last four games she has played in, Small has allowed 18 goals. Flanagan has said multiple times, specifically after a win over Lindenwood, that the defense needs to be more stout.
“It’s great to see our offense explode, and you want to replicate that. But we do need to tighten up defensively,” Flanagan said.
The post By the numbers: the statistics that led to Syracuse’s 1st regular season CHA title appeared first on The Daily Orange.