By Luke Burgess
Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Orange (2-5-1) came into the weekend ready for their first home and home series of the season against The University at Buffalo Bulls (2-1-1). It was a tale of two very different contests, one that saw 11 total goals, while the other just 5.
The Orange headed west to Amherst, Buffalo on Friday night, and there was no doubt that the Bulls came ready to play. The first period yielded 5 goals from 5 different players on the Buffalo end, and although they would only score 2 for the remainder of the game, they kept Syracuse in check the whole night, surrendering only 4 goals off an impressive 51 shots. Harrison Guigui made 47 saves in the win for the Bulls proving critical to their 7-4 victory.
The Orange have conceded far too many goals this season on far too few shots. Their 52 goals against rank in the bottom 5 this season, and their middle-of-the-league-ranked 30 goals haven't been good enough to make up for it. The team knows that they need to be better in front of the net, having mentioned it as a critical area several times throughout the season, the process of getting there is one that is still a work in progress.
Saturday was Greek Life Night, congratulations to Alpha Gamma Delta on being the Chapter with the highest attendance, Tennity Ice Pavilion was certainly energized by the presence of so many passionate and competitive students. The Orange put together a much better effort in the back of the two-game series, only allowing 2 goals on 29 shots, and scoring 3 (including an impressive Overtime winner) on 62.
Syracuse has played much better in the second half of their matchups this year. All three of their wins have come in game twos, and when they haven’t won, the effort seems to go up another level when they meet an opponent for the second time.
Coach Timmons addressed this recurrence following the Saturday win, discussing how they can come out with the same winning mentality to start a series.
“It’s unfortunate because I feel the reason we do that is because we need to make up for the night before so that we come out better in the second game of the weekend. It’s about playing 60 minutes and playing to our standard. It’s something we need to resolve though and start putting weekends together right from the first night.”
Timmons emphasized how it needs to be a 100% effort from each individual in order to see improvement. Although there have been flashes of that hard-nosed commitment, such as the Orange defense’s ability to block shots, there is still a crucial need for more defensive intensity and commitment to limiting goals.
One of the easiest ways to inject a spark into the team is through Special Teams, when asked about what was needed in the department, Timmons had this to say.
“Communication and understanding how to play our system on both the Penalty Kill and Powerplay side. For the PP, we just put more of a focus on our puck movement and knowing our options to get good chances on net. It’s all about getting pucks on net”.
The Orange have played a lot of strong opponents this year, and that will not change as they begin their series with Oswego State this Thursday at 7 PM at Oswego. The Orange will be back at the Tennity Ice Pavillion to face the Lakers at 7 PM on Friday, where they will look to get one step closer to evening out their record.
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