Updated: Dec 6, 2022
By Stephen Sklar
SYRACUSE, NY – The trip down to Western Pennsylvania was a big reality check for Syracuse (7-12-1), as the Orange dropped both games of the road series to #13 Pittsburgh (9-5-2). SU was unable to carry its momentum from a sweep of URI two weekends ago into the series against an ancient rival.
The Orange were able to get plenty of shots off in the first period of the Friday game, but the Panthers notched the first goal. The onslaught didn’t stop there, as Pitt also netted the second and third goals of the game within the first ten minutes of play. It came down to executing on scoring chances in the first period and Pittsburgh did that with ease.
Syracuse had a golden opportunity to respond when Pittsburgh committed a penalty in the first frame. Even with a chance to score on the man-up, SU failed to capitalize on one of its best looks all game.
The Panthers, who currently sit in first place in the ESCHL standings, were up a hat trick going into the second period and kept their foot on the gas. They tacked on another goal three minutes into the frame to end the lead to four. SU had multiple power play chances after that. Although the first one of the period was inconsequential, the second one paved the way for a Sam Hutchinson goal that cut the deficit to three.
Pittsburgh kept the pressure on for the remainder of the game and walked out with a 7-2 win. The most pressing issue for Head Coach Chris Timmons after the loss was the lack of solid play on the defensive end.
“Our goalies played fantastic this weekend and kept the games close, but our guys didn’t play in front of them to give us a chance to win,” he said.
He noted that SU didn’t have a particularly great week in practice either, citing poor conditioning all week. When the puck dropped on Friday, it was clear from jump street that the Orange looked a little uncomfortable at game speed.
The Saturday matinee began in a similar fashion to the Friday contest, with Pittsburgh striking first early in the opening period. However, Jack Alecia came back with a goal for the Orange in the seventh minute to knot things up at one.
One noticeable change from game one to game two was the effort on the penalty kill. SU allowed two shorthanded goals to close out the first game, but that wasn’t a problem Saturday afternoon. The Orange used a quality penalty kill in the second period to grab momentum and net another game-tying goal off the stick of Brock Alvers.
“When we score goals on the power play or kill off a penalty it’s a huge momentum swing in games and can help us going forward, especially when we’re not on top,” said defenseman Luke Caddo.
Alvers’ goal was a step in the right direction but wasn’t enough to propel the Orange to a victory. Pittsburgh would go on to score four unanswered goals and walk away with a 6-2 victory over the Orange.
Syracuse has a long winter break before it returns to action on the road against Drexel University (9-7-3) to open the second half. The Orange return home the following weekend for a series against Robert Morris (10-9-0) on January 20th.
Note from the editor:
From our family here at Syracuse Hockey to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday and a happy new year! We look forward to seeing you as we return to the Tennity Ice Pavilion in January.