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Syracuse Men's Hockey: No. 18 Orange Out-Muscle No. 15 Illinois in First Nationals Win

The Syracuse non-varsity men's hockey team won its first ever national tournament game yesterday in a close contest with Illinois.

Syracuse Men's Hockey Twitter Account

In its second-ever trip to the ACHA National Tournament, No. 18 Syracuse Men's Hockey found its stride and advanced to the second round with a great 5-3 win over No. 15 Illinois. Next up, the Orange will face No. 2 Stony Brook for the third time this season. SU lost 9-1 and 3-2, respectively, in the two previous matchups.

Freshman forward Connor McNamera got the game started with a goal in the third minute of the game off of a pass from fellow freshman Keith Lambert. Syracuse got a chance to increase its lead with a power play later in the period. Despite some good looks, though, they were unable to do so. Senior goalie Jaime Kechabaw had three great saves to keep Illinois off the scoreboard.

The two teams traded power play chances at the beginning of the second, and the Illini scored a short-handed goal from junior defender Austin Zima to tie the game up at one. The Orange failed to see the back of the net on their power play, but Lambert scored with 7:16 left in the period to put the team back ahead. After another power play opportunity, to no avail, both squads scored goals within seconds of each other. Syracuse's goal came off of the stick of senior forward Brendan Flanagan, son of Women's Ice Hockey head coach Paul Flanagan.

Senior forward John Olen scored for Illinois. The Orange held a one-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Lambert's second goal of the game came with 15:34 left in the game, putting Syracuse back up by two. The Illini were not finished just yet, as freshman defender Benjamin Jeon scored two minutes later, the lead back down to one goal. With two power plays, Illinois had several chances to tie the game up but the penalty kill for the Orange was just too much. Ketchabaw was a wall of a net-minder, tallying 38 saves over the course of the afternoon and keeping Illinois off the board for the remainder of the game. SU rounded up the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final two minutes of play.

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Syracuse's rematch with Stony Brook takes place at 3 p.m. ET this afternoon. You can watch it live here, or listen live here. You can also follow the team on Twitter at @syracusehockey for live updates.