By Kevin Dorr
Lawrenceville, NJ– The Syracuse Orange (5-10-1) dropped a 4-3 decision to The College of New Jersey (4-9-1) on Saturday. Despite the Orange dominating in possession and shots on goal, the Lions were able to cling on to a win.
Senior Connor Flanagan opened the scoring for the Orange, evening the score at 1 near the end of the first period. Flanagan controlled a bouncing puck and ripped a shot past TCNJ netminder Mike Bussanich.
Flanagan, who plays a blue collared brand of hockey, is usually relied upon to shift momentum by playing fast and physical.
“Being physical is definitely one of my main roles,” said the forward. “Not only does it get our bench going, it opens up space for our skilled guys when they get out there.”
Flanagan’s line played hard, forcing turnovers and making it tough on TCNJ in their own zone.
The Lions took the lead back with 5 seconds left in the first, and doubled their lead midway through the second frame.
Despite outshooting TCNJ 35-14 through 2 periods, the Orange found themselves down 3-1. TCNJ goalie Mike Bussanich deserves much of the credit, but the Orange were not hard enough on pucks near the net.
Sam Hutchinson and the rest of the forwards were buzzing in the offensive zone, but they were unable to finish chances.
“It’s frustrating to outplay a team like that then come up short,” said the junior. “We need to get more guys out front for screens and rebound opportunities.”
The Lions extended their lead early in the third period, bringing the Orange deficit to 3.
Down 4-1, the Orange capitalized on the power play halfway through the third. Defenseman Connor Chesner walked into the slot and picked the top left corner. Chesner’s 3rd goal of the season gave Syracuse some much needed life.
Chesner believes that the Orange are capable of battling back, but understands that being in a position where that doesn’t have to happen is much better.
“It shows that we can fight through adversity,” stated the rookie. “We also need to have more energy throughout the game, not just crunch time”.
Hutchinson brought the Orange within one with under 4 minutes to go. But after a flurry of shots and huge saves from Bussanich, Syracuse ran out of time.
Syracuse dominated TCNJ, outshooting them 50-20. Besides the final score, there were many positives from the game.
For the Orange, a winnable game like this will become a learning experience. Bearing down near the net will be a priority for when they host URI this weekend.
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