By Owen Sienko
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Syracuse Orange (3-8-1) were unable to upset the No. 6 Liberty Flames (15-3-0) on Friday, November 22. During the lopsided 7-3 tilt, Syracuse goaltender Eric Parker put on a clinic while facing 51 shots from the Liberty offense.
“We know liberty is good so I did expect more than a usual game,” Parker said after the game. “I just had to stay focused no matter how many goals they scored.”
The tempo of the first period was a bit slow to start, but some big hits from both sides ramped it up about five minutes in. Unfortunately for Syracuse, that physicality resulted in a Peter-Owen Hayward tripping penalty 5:20 into the game. The Flames took advantage of the opportunity just 28 seconds after Hayward entered the box when forward Matthew Bartel ripped a shot into the top right corner, putting his team up 1-0.
Liberty continued to dominate puck possession after taking an early lead, cutting off seemingly every Syracuse passing lane. Halfway through the period, the Orange still hadn’t punched through their rock-hard defense to get a shot on net. Senior goaltender Eric Parker was sharp, turning aside quality Liberty chances to keep his team in the game.
With 1:23 left in the opening frame, Liberty defenseman Garrett Nelson was called for interference. This granted Syracuse a 37-second man advantage to start the second period, but they were unable to convert and only managed two shots on net during the entire power play.
The Orange were offered a second chance 6:42 into the period when Brock Thompson took a cross-checking minor. The Orange power play unit capitalized just 15 seconds after stepping on the ice. A Liberty clear attempt was thwarted with a second-baseman snag by defenseman Ford Hatchett, who proceeded to tee himself up for a point slap shot. Goaltender Cedric Le Sieur was able to stop the puck, but gave up a rebound to Matt Jacobs, who hammered it into the back of the net to even the score.
Starting 2:48 later, the Flames responded with a barrage of three consecutive goals, two of them coming on the power play. The Orange were able to strike back with just 14 seconds remaining in the period with a power-play goal of their own, courtesy of Zack Gordon, to cut the Flames’ lead to 4-2 heading into the locker room.
Liberty set the tone just 1:36 into the third period when Jordan Bochinski slid cross-ice pass to Andy Clarke, who ripped a one-timer into the open net from close range to give his team a three-goal lead.
The Flames were levied a five-minute major penalty 4:13 into the period after Josh Bergen was ejected for a scary hit on Lucas Prestamo. The man-advantage was cut short just 1:29 later when Syracuse defenseman Mackenzie Murphy was sent to the box for slashing. Liberty made good use of their even-strength time less than a minute later, deflating the Syracuse bench with an Arturas Laukaitis goal.
Liberty proceeded to pepper Parker with shots for the remainder of the period, but he stood strong to turn all of them aside.
With 4:44 on the clock, Liberty’s Devin Melice gave his team their second five-minute penalty of the game after being kicked off the ice for a dangerous hit on defenseman Kai Miller. Joining him in the box was Jacob Fricks, who also received a two-minute minor and a ten-minute misconduct for roughing.
The two-man advantage was cut short 1:11 later by a Syracuse bench minor for having too many men on the ice. Syracuse’s Peter-Owen Hayward made do with a one-man advantage when he sped into the zone and sniped a shot over Le Sieur’s shoulder.
Head coach Connor Treacy decided to take a risk and pull the goalie for an extra attacker on the ensuing play, but Liberty quickly put the puck in the back of the net with 2:24 remaining to decisively put the game away 7-3.
Alternate captain Ford Hatchett said he identified two moments that ended up being turning points in the game.
“Their 4th goal felt like a real letdown for us, but we got one back and felt like we had chance and then their goal to start the third just took all the air out of our balloon,” he said.
The Orange and the Flames will return to the Tennity Ice Pavilion tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to complete their season series. Fans can catch the action live from the team’s website at https://www.suhockey.com/about-26.
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