Syracuse Sweep Series, Beat Niagara 5-3
By Owen Sienko
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Syracuse Orange (13-13-3) swept their weekend series against the Niagara Purple Eagles (20-9-2) with another 5-3 upset yesterday. The bounce-back weekend is a much-needed confidence boost for the Orange as they prepare to close out their season next weekend.
The Syracuse leadership core combined for ten points last night. Alternate captain Matt Jacobs continued to dominate, earning himself a goal and two assists for six points on the weekend. Captain Peter-Owen Hayward dished out three assists to bring himself within four points of 400 in his career. Alternate captain Ford Hatchett also had himself a three-point night with two goals and an assist.
Hatchett highlighted the importance of leading by example for the young team.
“Well obviously with the way our team is constructed we know how much the group relies on us to produce and I think all of us feel and cherish that pressure,” he said.
Syracuse got off to a hot start in the first period, netting two goals in the first three minutes of play. Matt Jacobs added two scoring plays to his highlight reel with a beautiful goal and a slick assist to give the Orange an early edge.
Syracuse opened the scoring in the game just 48 seconds in when Jacobs, controlling the puck at the corner boards, found Chris Brunner-Grande cutting to the net. The junior forward roofed a top-shelf goal from the slot to put his team up 1-0.
With 1:23 expired, the Orange had the opportunity to double their lead on a long man-advantage when Niagara’s David Fish received a five-minute major. The power-play unit capitalized about a minute later when Ford Hatchett floated a shot from the blue line, through a screen set by Lucas Prestamo, and into the back of the net.
A rare delay-of-game penalty from Orange goalie Eric Parker stifled the momentum with 10:49 on the clock. Niagara followed suit, scoring on their first power play of the game just 19 seconds later.
Momentum slightly favored Niagara for the rest of the period, but Matt Jacobs flipped the script with just four seconds left. After receiving a pass from defenseman Luke Caddo in the neutral zone, Jacobs burned past the defense and sniped the goalie’s water bottle off of the top of the net to double the Syracuse lead.
Jacobs said his performance in the first period is the product of a larger team effort to start on-time.
“We try to just work hard and set the tone for the team and we ended up doing that this weekend,” he said.
Niagara forward Chad Moore revived his team with two unanswered goals in the second period. The Purple Eagles bombarded Parker with 19 shots on goal and took advantage of the few blunders made by the Syracuse defense.
Just over five minutes into the period, Syracuse defenseman Mackenzie Murphy was boxed for holding. The penalty kill bailed Murphy out, but Niagara still capitalized before he could even get his feet on the ice. Just four seconds after the penalty expired, Chad Moore scored on a breakaway to bring Niagara to within one.
Parker shined throughout the period with sprawling saves on one-timers and efficient rebound control, but a puck handling error behind the net allowed Moore to score the equalizing goal with 10:49 remaining.
Parker and the defense locked down the net for the rest of the period to maintain a 3-3 tie going into the second intermission.
Syracuse put the game away in the third period with a pair of unanswered goals of their own. The Orange were efficient with their offensive chances, only managing six shots on goal in the third period.
Syracuse put themselves back on top just over a minute into the final frame on a four-on-two rush. Matt Jacobs floated a cross-ice saucer pass to Ford Hatchett, who deflected the puck into the net at the front doorstep.
Colin Morrow delivered the dagger about halfway through the period after hammering home a rebound in the crease for a power-play goal. Morrow’s tally would stand as the final goal in Syracuse’s 5-3 win over Niagara.
Syracuse will close out the regular season against a division rival next weekend when they take on the Delaware Blue Hens at home. Although the Orange are locked into the sixth seed for the ESCHL tournament, the Blue Hens are still battling with NYU for third.
Peter-Owen Hayward said he is expecting Delaware to put in a full effort to win those two points.
“It’s always a tough battle with Delaware,” Hayward said. “They have a couple highly skilled players and they work hard.”
The puck will drop between the Blue Hens and the Orange this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Fans can follow along with the action at suhockey.com/about-26.
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