Updated: Oct 27, 2019
By Owen Sienko
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- On Friday, October 18, the Syracuse Orange (1-2-1) traveled down to Virginia to take on their ESCHL rivals, the Liberty University Flames (7-0-0). The Orange hoped to pick up their first in-division win of the season after being swept by the NYU Violets last weekend.
The Flames controlled possession for much of the first period, but solid Syracuse defense and outstanding goaltending by senior Eric Parker kept Liberty off the scoreboard.
Liberty scoring leader Josh Fricks was buzzing early in the game, launching one-timer after one-timer at Parker. The senior goalie was up for the challenge, stoning Fricks cold every time.
Both teams kept the game clean, with very few notable hits or penalties, until after the buzzer sounded, when Liberty’s Brock Thompson took a jab at Syracuse’s Connor Preston. The referees broke up the resulting scrum behind the Syracuse net and sent the players to the locker room scoreless.
Syracuse’s special teams woes continued to plague them in the second period, as the Orange were unable to convert on three power-play opportunities.
About seven minutes into the period, a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity arose for the Orange after Matthew Bartel joined Jordan Bochinski in the Liberty penalty box. Immediately after leaving the box, Bochinski stole the puck away from defenseman Ford Hatchett and gave the puck to Quinn Ryan. Once in the Syracuse zone, Ryan sent a cross-ice pass back to Bochinski, who ripped a one-timer past Parker.
Later in the period, Bochinski would put the puck in the back of the net just as it came dislodged, but the referee made the controversial decision to wave off the goal.
A Connor Preston penalty towards the end of the period would send Syracuse to the locker room down 1-0 with 23 seconds of penalty time left to kill.
Jordan Bochinski continued to play on fire in the third period despite his team failing on the early power play.
Just over two minutes into the period, Bochinski set up Josh Hamilton from the opposite end of the zone, allowing him to snipe a shot past Parker. Liberty would have extended their lead to three if it wasn’t for Parker robbing Devin Melice on another cross-ice pass.
Bochinski struck again two minutes later with yet another goal, wristing a shot over Parker’s shoulder from a distance while rushing down the ice.
“Bo is a menace out there. They’ve got so much talent up front and they just keep coming all night with a deep lineup,” Hatchett said of Bochinski’s play.
Seven and a half minutes into the period, Syracuse responded on the power play when Peter Owen Hayward jammed the puck past Liberty goaltender Tyler Myers to make it a 3-1 game. Syracuse capitalized on their next power-play opportunity when Zack Gordon wedged the puck through Myers’ fivehole to cut the Flames’ lead in half with ten minutes left to play.
Gordon said the team’s plan came together on the second power-play goal.
“We knew their goalie gave up frequent rebounds, so getting shots on net and crashing would result in goals,” Gordon said. “Makenzie had a great shot from the point that got through and it gave me a great opportunity to put home the rebound.”
Despite a spirited effort after pulling the goalie for an extra attacker, the Orange were unable to complete the comeback. The Flames scored an empty-net goal with 19 seconds remaining, and Syracuse fell to Liberty 4-2 in the first half of the double-header in Virginia.
“I feel like a broken record saying it, but I liked our compete to get back in the game again, but it’s too little too late,” junior alternate captain Ford Hatchett said
“I think we could do a little better slowing their rush through the neutral zone and keeping them from their odd-man rushes but overall just bounce back exactly with exactly the same energy as today,” Zack Gordon said.
Fans can watch part two of this weekend’s Liberty University double-header tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN+.
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