By Owen Sienko
Syracuse, N.Y.-- On Saturday, October 5, the Syracuse Orange (0-0-1) defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes (1-2-0) 3-1 in the second half of this weekend’s doubleheader. The Orange needed this bounce-back victory after losing to the Golden Flashes 4-3 in overtime last night.
The Golden Flashes controlled possession of the puck to start out the first period, but the Syracuse defense was rock solid throughout, allowing very few shots on net. Junior defenseman Ford Hatchett in particular was a rock on the back end, playing through a shift lasting two minutes and 31 seconds. When pucks did get through, senior goaltender Eric Parker was up to the task.
“I felt good in net,” Parker said after the game. “I had some long stretches with net shots which can be tough sometimes but was able to stay focused through the game.”
Finally, Kent State managed to sneak a puck past Parker and the defense to notch an early goal, but this did not deter Syracuse from bringing some physicality to the game.
Time into the period, Kent State benefitted from a five-on-three powerplay opportunity, but failed to convert.
Big open-ice hits by the Orange turned the tides of possession in their favor, and finally, with 22.2 seconds left in the period, forward Connor Preston netted an equalizing goal just in time for the first intermission.
“That goal was huge for momentum in the second. It really shifts in your favor when you can get a goal late like that, and I think it set us up for a big second period,” senior alternate captain Luke Caddo said.
The Orange carried the momentum created at the end of the first period into the second, maintaining solid possession of the puck throughout.
Tensions started running high in the period when Kent State’s Justin Bioni clipped the leg of Syracuse’s Lucas Prestamo. As a result of the play, Prestamo was helped off the ice and into the dressing room, and Bioni was issued a five-minute major penalty. Syracuse would capitalize on the first play of the ensuing long two-man advantage when Hayward set up Luke Caddo at the point for a goal. Syracuse would head to into the locker room with a one-goal lead and momentum on their side.
The Orange buckled down defensively and kept bringing the physical play in the third period.
“The guys really stepped up, especially Ricker and Kai. I’m proud of that group, they really showed what they’re capable of tonight and were a huge part of that win,” Luke Caddo said.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Connor Preston went bar-down with a wrist shot for his second goal of the game. Kent State pulled their goalie with about one minute remaining, but were unable to generate any offense.
By the time the dust had settled, the Orange left the ice with their first win of the season. Goalie Eric Parker had a solid night in net with 19 saves on 20 shots, and forward Connor Preston finished the game with two goals.
“I think the success stems from our work in our own zone,” Preston said after Saturday’s game. “Getting pucks out and deep into the offensive zone creates scoring opportunities.”
The Orange will continue their long string of away games next weekend with a visit to their ESCHL rivals, the New York University Violets.
“The goal is the same, we need to get four points,” Luke Caddo added. “We need to carry the positives from this game into the city this Friday and keep building momentum going forward.”
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