Updated: Feb 24
By Isabella Apple
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Syracuse Orange (12-13-3) came home to Tennity Ice Pavillion to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles (20-8-2) on Friday. With an avalanche of goals in the second period, Syracuse defeated Niagara 5-3.
The Orange, coming off a tough weekend series in Stony Brook, looked to get their legs under them quickly as the puck dropped against the Purple Eagles. Both teams fell into some penalty trouble throughout the first, however.
There were five penalties in the opening frame, but neither team was able to crack these goaltenders with the man-advantage; Syracuse going 0-3 and Niagara going 0-2. Syracuse even got over 30 seconds of 5-on-3 play but was unable to use the space in the offensive zone to get one past Louis Wery, Niagara’s starting net-minder.
Forward Tim Kalinowski said the Orange just need to finish their strong powerplays off with more goals.
“It comes down to just burying the puck when we have opportunities. We had plenty tonight but we just couldn’t capitalize. Good teams score on the power play so it’s absolutely essential we do that,” he said.
Syracuse excelled on the penalty kill with unsung hero Colin Morrow using his body to disrupt the Purple Eagles powerplay unit.
Morrow said blocking shots and getting into passing lanes is the key to a successful kill.
“Coach emphasizes it a lot. He tells us that he wants guys who are going to layout to block a shot so we all know that we have to get in the lanes and help our goalie out,” said the sophomore. “I think the key [to success] is just not running around and staying in position. If we take away their shooting lanes and tie up sticks we’ll be fine.”
With just 3:45 remaining in the first, sophomore starter Cal Stewart made a great save off of Niagara’s initial shot, but as the puck rebounded right into the lower slot, the Purple Eagles were able to squeak it across the goal line.
The Orange got their looks but were unable to finish plays and had to leave the ice for the first intermission down 1-0.
Looking for a spark, Syracuse’s top line delivered. Off the opening face-off, forward Peter-Owen Hayward found winger Tim Kalinowski, who found center Matt Jacobs to get the Orange on the board just 37 seconds into the second. Since returning from a preseason hip injury, Kalinowski has taken the play of Syracuse’s top line to a new level.
Just as the Orange tied it up 1-1, Connor Preston was called for a minor penalty, giving Niagara a man-advantage. The Purple Eagles were able to score the first powerplay goal of the night, reclaiming their lead 2-1.
The Orange never blinked, going right back to work, and were soon rewarded. Preston, playing 4-on-4, buried the puck off the assist from his line-mate Lucas Prestamo to tie up the game once again. Syracuse was feeling the crowd’s energy now.
The two teams continued to struggle to keep five men on the ice at a time as the refs continued to send players to the sin bin. Playing 4-on-4 opened up the ice for Matt Jacobs once again, as his initial shot went off of Niagara’s goalie’s pads and made its way onto the tape of Ford Hatchett. Purple Eagles’ Wery was too focused on Jacobs to his left, he left the cage yawning for Hatchett. The 6’4 defenseman somehow got lost by Niagara’s defense and was all alone just waiting to tap the puck into the wide-open net.
The Orange’s 3-2 lead soon disappeared though. As Stewart was screened by his own man, Niagara was able to tie the game at 3-3, firing a shot off the post and in with just over five minutes remaining in the second.
Minutes later, alternate captain Matt Jacobs was on the breakaway with Purple Eagles’ draped all over him. As he fell to his knees his focus never deterred. Jacobs scored a highlight-reel goal, slipping the puck through the 5-hole to net his second of the night and give the Orange back their lead.
Jacobs said he was just trying to get some separation from his man when he scored.
“I thought the Niagara defenseman was even with me so I was trying to lean into him and I was ahead of him so I lost an edge and just tried to slide the puck through the goalie’s legs,” recalled the senior.
You can check out the goal on Twitter.
After an offensively quiet first period, both teams exploded in the second scoring six goals in the middle frame. The Orange left the ice for the final intermission leading 4-3.
The scoring - which seemed to never end in the second - slowed to start the third.
Both teams continued to be strong on the penalty kill as the refs continued to call a tight game. With over five minutes remaining in the third, both teams had three men each crowding the box. As time ticked on, the penalty minutes continued to rack up on both sides.
With under two minutes left in the third, forward Colin Morrow was rewarded for his hard work. The junior entered the zone, Prestamo passed him the puck and he fired it past Niagara’s goalie giving the Orange an insurance goal for the final minute of play.
The Orange would end up beating the Purple Eagles 5-3 in a back and forth game. Matt Jacobs’ beautiful breakaway goal scored from his knees at the end of the second would stand as the game-winner. Syracuse and Niagara will be back in action tomorrow, Saturday, February 22nd when the puck drops at 2 p.m. from Tennity Ice Pavillion.
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