By Brooke Killgore
Photo Credit: Arnav Pokhrel (Instagram: @prod_adp)
ATHENS, OH—After silencing the Oswego State Lakers last weekend, the momentum fell short for Syracuse as they dropped both games against the #14 Ohio University Bobcats, 4-1 on Friday and 7-0 on Saturday.
The Orange skated into Bird Arena on Friday night, expecting to carry energy from their dominant wins against the Lakers into the 2 game series. Yet, ‘Cuse struggled to showcase their ability to move the puck efficiently and surrendered 3 shorthanded goals to OU in game 1.
Syracuse managed to draw ten powerplays off the Bobcats, the most attempts the Orange have had under head coach Chris Timmons. Though they managed to keep their time in the box to a minimum, Syracuse only scored once in the ten opportunities. The PPG came in the second period off the stick of freshman forward Evan Applegate - the first of his ACHA career.
“It [felt] great. We’ve been in a little bit of a slump, but hopefully, this first one will open the floodgates,” the Hamburg native said. “I just got to keep getting shots on net, looking for those opportunities and taking advantage of them.”
The Bobcat’s goaltender, Justin Damon, proved to be a formidable opponent as the senior saved 36 of 37 attempts, recording a .973 save percentage against the Orange.
“You look at plays like [how] Evan Vassilovski [had] a give-and-go play that almost goes in, you don't get all of it, and [Damon] makes a good glove save,” Timmons commented on the Minnesota goaltender’s performance.
“You look at the following play where it’s Vassilovski again, finding Cook in the middle, and Damon makes a good save. That’s going to happen, but we just have to get pucks in the net.”
Syracuse failed to generate more offense after Applegate’s powerplay goal and went on to fall 4-1. Coach Timmons commented on the abundance of powerplay opportunities and the downfall of giving up 3 short handed goals - the difference in Friday's game.
“You look at that game, and the crux of it is the self-inflicted goals, especially with us on the powerplay. We just have to reduce our mistakes when we're up a man and cash in on some more opportunities,” Timmons said.
Looking to bounce back on Saturday, Syracuse fell short.
The Bobcats scored three goals within the first period, two off the power play, as the Orange tallied four penalties. As the second period continued, sophomore AJ Finta held Ohio to one goal and the number of Syracuse penalties fell drastically—a more positive period.
Yet, the third period was much like the first as the Bobcats put three more in the net to cap off the weekend with a 7-0 win over the Orange.
The game looked to be over with 39 seconds left in the period until junior defenseman Lucas Skolnick was shoved down to the ice by a Bobcat forward and gloves flew off from both sides. The scuffle ended with 11 different penalties issued for the Orange and 12 for Ohio, as several players left the ice or were sent straight to the box.
Although Syracuse went 0-2 on the weekend the Orange relished the opportunity to play one of the nation's top programs. Ohio, currently ranked 14th in the ACHA, was ranked as high #3 earlier this season in the ACHA's top 25 Coach's Poll. The Bobcats made a run to the Final Four last season at the ACHA National Tournament - a run their poised to duplicate this season. Both games at Bird Arena (Athens, OH) were sold out with over 2,000 fans in attendance for both contests.
“We need to start making the most of our opportunities, especially on the powerplay, so finishing on our chances is going to be the focus this week,” Timmons said in terms of what the team hopes to accomplish going forward.
Syracuse, now 6-5-1, heads to Stony Brook University this weekend to take on the Seawolves, 2-5-1. Puck drop in Hauppauge, New York is 8:30 pm on Saturday and 3:30 pm on Sunday. You can catch the games via radio call on the Syracuse Hockey Network.