It took three overtimes and a total 116 minutes and ten seconds but Syracuse defeated Penn State 3-2 to advance to their second straight CHA championship appearance. The Orange will take on top-seed Mercyhurst today for the title. Syracuse has yet to win the CHA championship, but if the defeat Mercyhurst they will also grab a birth in the NCAA tournament.
The almost two hour long game is the longest game ever to be played in CHA history. When all was said and done, Syracuse finished with 64 shots, Penn State had 42. But the most important shot was the last one.
This game also had the highest attendance of any Syracuse game this season. Watching this intense battle was 1,572 fans who were stuck around for all three overtimes, completely invested in the game.
The pressure of all those eyes didn't phase Syracuse. They scored twice in the second period to grab a 2-0 lead. But in the third period the Nittany Lions stormed back, scoring two goals of their own and tying the game. The game went into two scoreless overtimes and no one was willing to back down. Players were going hard for the puck and putting everything they had behind each shot. To say they left it all out of the ice would be an understatement.
However after what seemed like hours of scoreless hockey, the crowd got what the were craving. In the final overtime period, sophomore Alysha Burriss carried the puck around the back of the net and found a wide open Stephanie Grossi who buried it top shelf, sending Syracuse to the championship game. Here's the goal that sent Syracuse onward:
There may be nothing better than a dog-pile celebration after your team wins. I don't know what Syracuse was more happy about: getting a chance to play in the title game or the fact that this game was finally over. My guess is the former, but there had to be some truth in the latter.
There is some real concern now for the Orange. They just finished a triple overtime game and now they have to turn around quickly and play Mercyhurst for the title today at 3 p.m. The 116 minute game, while incredible, is sure to hurt the Orange. That takes a heavy toll on an athlete's body. And to have to go for anther 60 minutes the next day will be a killer. Mercyhurst may take advantage of that aspect. The Lakers played their game against Robert Morris at 12 p.m. and won it in regulation. They have had more time to rest and less strain on their bodies. The championship game is anyone's battle and I am in no way ruling out Syracuse here. But the long game against Penn State will be pose a challenge that the Orange must overcome.
As I predicted in my last post, I expected this to be the final matchup: number one versus number two for the title, Mercyhurst vs. Syracuse. The two will square off 3 p.m. at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York.
I will be at the championship game so follow me on Twitter @NickPetraccione for live updates during the game and more information on the Syracuse women's ice hockey team.