The #2 Syracuse Orange took a 17-12 win over the #9 Albany Great Danes on Thursday night at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse moves to 8-1 overall and 7-0 at home on the season. Following a double overtime loss at Notre Dame that left stomachs in knots, this game was a lot easier to take.
After giving up the first two goals of the game to the Great Danes, Syracuse managed to finish the first period tied at four. The Orange had big second and third quarters, outscoring Albany by a combined 9-4 with Albany generating just one goal in the second period. Down by eight goals midway through the fourth quarter, the Great Danes attempted to pull off a late run, stringing together four straight goals but still finished short by five.
Once again we have to give credit to Ben Williams at the faceoff X. Even at the start of the second half the Albany defense appeared to be getting exhausted due to the continuous Syracuse possessions. Williams saw multiple guys at the faceoff X but went 24-27 in the game, a performance that leaves him tied at sixth in SU history for most faceoff wins in a game. To be clear, that is an insane .888 faceoff winning percentage. The Great Danes received two thirty second faceoff violation penalties in the second half, that's how deep Williams got into the head's of the Albany faceoff players. Cal Paduda also got into the mix taking four of six matches at the faceoff X.
The Orange were led by Henry Schoonmaker's five goals. Every shot on goal was a tally for Schoony tonight. SU had two man-down goals in the game, both coming off of Schoonmaker's stick. He has been very impressive in the last three games, really picking up a lot of the offensive slack.
Nicky Galasso followed up Schoony with four goals and one assist. His best goal on the night came with 1:39 remaining in the game when he drove to the net on the goal-line extended and forced his way up the crease hitting the back of the net on a cross-body shot with his side facing the goal (17-12 SU).
Then there is Kevin Rice. While very quiet in the loss to Notre Dame, Rice had three goals and four assists to lead the Orange in points with seven. With Randy Staats out for the second game in a row with a lower body injury, Rice has been utilizing Galasso in Staats' place, and tonight he assisted two Galasso goals.
Although SU gave up five penalties, they held the Great Danes without a man-up goal. Keeping in mind that Albany is sixth in the country in man-up offense this was quite a performance.
The big challenge defensively against Albany is trying to guard Lyle Thompson. The Albany attackman is a nightmare to cover. I thought Brandon Mullins did about as good a job as can be done against Thompson holding him to four goals and three assists. Thompson is averaging 3.75 assists per game (1st in NCAA), 2.88 goals per game (16th), and 6.63 points per game (1st). As you can see, Lyle was about average, average for him I mean, in tonight's game, which I would consider a win for Syracuse. Mullins did an especially good job face-guarding Lyle without the ball, forcing Albany to go to other members of its offense. The SU defense collapsed onto Lyle when he had the ball, creating several triple-team situations and forcing him to dump the ball. Consider this, the Albany offense had just one assist from anyone not named Thompson, that should tell you how dependent this team is on its star attackman.
In net, both Bobby Wardwell and Blaze Riorden had excellent games. Wardwell continues to look a little soft on low shots but today made up for that tonight by snagging a few, tremendous one-on-one saves. Riorden had 15 saves for Albany while Wardwell put up 12.
The Orange will visit the North Carolina Tar Heels a week from Saturday at 4:00 pm. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM. Of course you can also follow me @Orangelax for updates throughout the game.