By Luke Burgess
SYRACUSE, NY- There is no doubt that it was a special weekend at Tennity Ice Pavilion. As Syracuse (7-10-1) narrowly dodged almost 7 feet of snow, The University of Rhode Island Rams (9-5-2) made their way in for a two-game set, one that would be an intense battle all weekend long.
It was a familiar sight on Friday night for the Orange, they took 3 penalties in the first period, and although they went 100% on the penalty kill, they conceded once, as Justin Barcelou found the back of the net for the first time all season.
After going down 2-0, Syracuse took their game to another level scoring four straight, with goals from Hutchinson, Alvers, Larkin, and Alecia, with both Alecia and Larkin getting their first of the season.
Alecia’s line was incredibly productive all night long, they scored four of the six goals in the evening. When asked about what clicked so well for them, Alecia said “Now that we have that chemistry, going forward we can count on each other…we have to keep working together as a unit”. Alecia, who has been injured for a large portion of the year, was happy to contribute in any way that he could.
The third period showed an almost entirely different looking team, Syracuse gave up three goals, only scoring one. The final URI goal came with just 3 seconds remaining in regulation, and although the energy may have been taken out of the crowd, the energy on the Syracuse bench never wavered. “As soon as we got out there I knew we were going to score”, said Chesner, who scored the OT winner. “We had so much momentum, I wasn’t nervous at all”.
The Friday win, a rarity for Syracuse this year, gave them as much momentum as possible going into the matinee. If they didn’t have anything to play for beforehand, it was also Juliana DiCenso’s final game with the team, after four years with the team, and two years as director of hockey ops. The team rallied around this celebration as well as military appreciation weekend and delivered another stellar performance on Saturday afternoon to complete their first home sweep of the season.
The game itself was very different from Friday’s matchup, both teams were perfect on the Penalty Kill, and a total of only three goals were scored en route to a 2-1 win for Syracuse.
It was the Jack’s getting it done in the goal-scoring department, with Wren and Alecia both tallying one, but the Orange wouldn’t have stood a chance if it were not for goaltender Nikolaos Manousos. Manousos allowed only one goal on 45 shots but humbly gave credit to his teammates following the game. “When I see everyone out there working…I’ve gotta do what I can to help them”.
Although the third period was entirely goalless, SU stepped it up in a big way defensively going into the third. After giving up 20 shots in the first, and 18 in the second, a mere 7 in the third was huge to protect their one-goal lead.
A home sweep comes at the perfect time, as the Orange get that much closer to evening out their record and going into the second half of the season on a high note. “I think it was really really big for us and everyone was thrilled (With the win)” said Manousos. The coaching staff has preached how important morale and momentum are all year long, and there is certainly no better way to build it than to sweep an excellent Rhode Island team at home. The Rams were ranked 20th in the country heading into the weekend series with 'Cuse.
The Orange will head home for Thanksgiving this week, but they will quickly resume action following the break as they make a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers. The 7-5-2 Panthers currently sit in 1st place in the ESCHL and will be another tough test in a long line of them for the team, but as they have proved over the last few weeks especially, there is no one that this bunch can’t compete with.