Not catching tonight's game on TV might have been a good thing; there was nothing pretty about this victory. Wednesday's matchup with the Bearcats of Binghamton ended in a 10-8 win, with an empty netter at the end. A mediocre squad, Binghamton elevated its game and played very well tonight against a Syracuse team that looked like they had it on cruise control. For the most part, Syracuse did not play poorly, it just didn't look like there was the same energy tonight as we saw against Notre Dame. But hey, it's a Wednesday night game right?
The continuously changing status of the face-off game this year is always a fun topic. The first 6 face-offs went the way of Binghamton. Alex Doerflein took the first 4 before hurting his leg in the first period. In his place, freshman Dan Mazurek played a good game going 8-18. Chris Daddio played well picking up 6 groundballs on his way to winning 10 of 22 face-offs. After the game Daddio mentioned that after those first six he calmed himself down and gain some confidence.
In a first period that left SU trailing 2-3, the Orange did not win a face-off and had to get their possessions from saves or Binghamton turnovers. During Syracuse's four goal run in the third period SU put together a string of three straight face-off wins.
The Bearcats found themselves without junior goaltender Max Schefler due to a death in the family. Tanner Cosens filled in getting his first collegiate start in the Carrier Dome, and he played a damn good game. The freshman's 5 saves on 15 shots on goal may seem minimal but he had a few point blank saves throughout the game to keep his team in it. Countering Cosens, Dom Lamolinara and Bobby Wardwell split time in net. Each had 4 goals against and 3 saves. Nothing spectacular from either SU goalie but they both did their job well.
The Orange have been known for their incredibly efficient offense this year. Coming into the week, Syracuse was ranked third in the nation in shot percentage, while their shots on goal percentage sat at a very good .616 percent.
Tonight, that all seemed to disappear. The real problem lay with accuracy, just 15 of SU's 31 shots came on cage. A combination of bad angles, and poor releases caused the drop in on-net shots.
Neither team got beyond a one-goal lead until 5:36 left in the third period on a Dylan Donahue, man-up goal. Less than a minute later, Syracuse finally seemed like they were putting some distance between themselves and the Bearcats. Randy Staats, working from below the cage, backed his long-pole up along the crease before giving a little push-off. After creating that separation, Staats went to the off-foot, jump shot burying it top left, probably the nicest goal of the game.
With the three goal lead, it appeared that the Orange were about to hit the gas and get the big lead against the Bearcats that we all expected them to have. Alas, Syracuse allowed Binghamton to get back within reach, due to the Orange's chronic turnover troubles.
After Wardwell successfully backed up a Binghamton shot with just over three minutes remaining in the period, SU went on the clear. Wardwell sent the clearing pass to Drew Jenkins who stood on the 35 yard line, dead center, and with no opponent covering him Jenkins dropped the ball. Binghamton's George Deigan raced to the groundball and recovered it. The turnover led to goal, overturned by a crease violation. On the ensuing clear the Orange turned it over again, this time at mid-field, far sideline. Lucky for Syracuse, Wardwell made his only two saves of the period on the play with back-to-back stops. Syracuse backed up the third shot of the possession and successfully cleared it only to have the offense turn it over 43 seconds later.
There is no question that if the Orange continue to allow these costly turnovers, down the road, in a big game, it will come back to bite them.
The attack put up 4 goals and 4 assists. Again, no one played spectacularly but everyone took care of their business. Kevin Rice led all SU scorers with 2 goals and 2 assists. Rice also picked up the final goal of the game with 38 seconds remaining, dodging from the back left corner of the box, racing to the empty goal and burying the empty netter to seal it for the Orange.
This is just one of those games we want to get past and move on from; a good win but not one fans should look too closely at. Luckily we have 8 days until we take on #2 Cornell in Ithaca.