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Abby Moloughney looked to start another attack from right behind her own net with 15 minutes left in the third period. Syracuse was already up 2-0, and it kept the pressure up going into the final period, outshooting Union 7-2 in the first five minutes. But all Moloughney needed was to bounce the puck off the right wall to pass to teammate Lauren Bellefontaine. Bellefontaine retrieved the puck right at the Orange’s blue line and deked out Dutchwomen defender Emily King.
Bellefontaine quickly took the puck up the right side into Union’s defensive zone and created a two-on-one opportunity with Sarah Marchand. The senior sent a speedy pass to the freshman, who immediately passed the puck back to her. Bellefontaine had possession of the puck on Dutchwomen goalie Sophie Matsoukas’ left side and was about to fire a wrist shot. But Bellefontaine held on to the puck for one second longer and faked out the goalie to give the Orange a commanding 3-0 lead.
“This time I didn’t black out,” Bellefontaine said. “I actually knew what I was doing, and I was able to get a shot off and it went in.”
Bellefontaine’s teammates would score two more times in the third period. But her third goal of the season cemented Syracuse’s (1-2-2) dominant 5-0 victory over Union (2-3-0, 0-2 ECAC) on Tuesday. Through the first four games of the season, the Orange had scored six goals, the lowest mark in the College Hockey America conference. But in the second and third periods, SU almost equaled that number. This was also the first time this season that the Orange outshot their opponent, outshooting the Dutchwomen 55-34.
The first 10 seconds of the game saw Tatum White take a shot on the left side of the offensive zone and Sarah Thompson take a shot off the rebound. Matsoukas saved both shots, but this set the tone of the night. In the first minute alone, SU already recorded three shots. Then within three minutes, the Orange outshot the Dutchwomen 8-1. This included Victoria Klimek deking her defender and firing a shot that was blocked. But freshman Madison Primeau fired a shot of her own off the block, adding to the mounting pressure put on by Syracuse.
Despite having nine more shots on goal in the first period than their opponent, the Orange still were scoreless. It reminded head coach Paul Flanagan of the most recent loss to Clarkson where multiple shots went off the crossbar. Even with those close missed opportunities, Flanagan thought that his team was sluggish in the opening period.
“I think the kids were trying to gain confidence by maybe doing more with the puck,” Flanagan said. “Sometimes to a fault, maybe they get stripped of it.”
Bellefontaine echoed her coach’s sentiment and described the team playing more individually rather than together. During the first intermission, everyone on the team was speaking up in the locker room on how to improve, she said. Many of her teammates said they planned to do “cadillac turns” where they would turn in short circle movements and get more air on the puck. Bellefontaine felt the improvement was immediate.
“We came out flying in the second period,” Bellefontaine said. “Our goal was to get pucks on net and calm down a bit, and we were able to do that.”
Union was the first to get a shot off in the second period. But the next eight shots belonged to Syracuse. Four minutes into the second period, Rayla Clemons zoomed down the ice to start the barrage of shots for the Orange, where she got a shot off from the right side and was able to start a scrum that stopped play.
Over a minute later, the Orange finally capitalized on their abundance of shots. Klimek skated along the left side of the goal line where Dutchwomen forward Cassidy Michalicka pressured her. As Klimek moved close to the net, Michalicka tripped her, and she passed it out to Primeau. And as Klimek dived and slid across the ice, Primeau scored the first goal of her collegiate career, giving SU a 1-0 lead.
Syracuse didn’t stop attacking throughout the rest of the game. Eleven minutes later, junior forward Brynn Koocher had a look for the Orange’s second goal of the game from the right side. But Matsoukas saved the quick shot, immediately sending play back down the other end where Union forward Ashley Adams could get a shot off. But Adams’ shot missed, and Mae Batherson sent the puck back down the ice, where Koocher was all alone with Matsoukas. Koocher beat the goalie, firing a shot to the top right of the net increasing Syracuse’s lead to two goals.
SU continued to dominate, solidifying its first victory with Bellefontaine’s goal. Flanagan was not only impressed by the senior’s goal, but also the amount of faceoffs she won. Bellefontaine won 18 of her 24 faceoffs that night, more than any other player on the ice.
“For her, it actually starts in the faceoff circle,” Flanagan said. “She was excellent, and tonight she had another high percentage night.”
Syracuse was in full control of the faceoff circle and score as the Orange had 61.9% of the faceoffs and had a three-goal lead as the clock dwindled down to five minutes. But SU continued its relentless attack as Marielle McHale got a pass from Klimek in the center and fired a shot from the left side past the Union goalie. Less than two minutes later, White ended the night of scoring with a long powerful wrist shot from the left circle that Matsoukas wasn’t able to hold on to. Flanagan was relieved to see many of those chances that didn’t capitalize in the first four games find the back of the net.
“In the first four games, we’ve had some really good chances and haven’t cashed in that often” Flanagan said. “But we generated a lot of chances tonight, and to be honest, that is the difference.”
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