Ice Hockey

Syracuse’s lockdown defense propels it to 4-0 victory over RIT in CHA semifinals

Courtesy of Mario Pasco | CHA

The Orange had plenty to celebrate on Friday night, easily stifling the RIT offense.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For Syracuse, the best defensive team in College Hockey America, Friday night’s evisceration of Rochester Institute of Technology was expected. Syracuse has the best scoring defense in the conference allowing just 1.8 goals per game and the Tiger offense had been dismal all season, scoring just 1.4 goals a contest. So when the Orange strode into the HarborCenter on the verge of its third-straight CHA tournament final, it was business as usual.

As SU systematically broke down the Tigers on the offensive end, scoring four goals and firing off 42 shots, well-rested Orange defenders made sure Friday night would be a game the Tigers would soon want to forget.

In 240 regular-season minutes, the Tigers only scored four goals against a stout SU defense. Tonight, the Tigers found no new success as Syracuse (16-12-5, 14-4-2 CHA) cruised to a 4-0 victory over RIT (7-27-2, 4-14-2) in the CHA tournament semifinal.

“They (our defenders) were just stepping up, not giving them any room … it was huge,” SU goalie Abbey Miller said.

Syracuse showcased the defense that had been one of the few consistencies present during the five-month long season. In three periods, the Tigers only mustered 13 shots, a handful of grade-A scoring opportunities and most importantly, zero goals.

Coming into the game, Syracuse noticed that they had been more successful when they pressured RIT on the forecheck. The biggest evidence of the defensive dominance resulted in RIT only getting one shot off in 5:07 of having a skater advantage.

“It feels great to see everyone give a 110 percent,” SU forward Heather Schwarz said. “Especially since it was no guarantee if this would be our last game. We had to go all out.”

SU’s best defensive players performed to their standards. Two days removed from being named best defenseman in the conference, Allie Munroe pressured RIT skaters and was a key factor in not allowing the Tigers to establish any form of an offensive zone. Down on the offensive end, where SU spent the majority of its time, Munroe also contributed a goal.

In net Miller recorded her ninth shutout of the season with ease. The junior faced just 13 shots and none threatened her perfect day. With the shutout, Miller became the all-time leader in Orange history in just her first season as a starter.

Junior Dakota Derrer did what she’s done best all season, as she laid out repeatedly to clog passing lanes and disrupt any rhythm the Tigers established. Forward Jessica Sibley was a wrecking ball on a swarming Orange defense as the senior contributed two blocks. Near the boards, the 6-foot-1 Lindsay Eastwood stretched out her stick and became a menace with her poke check, consistently knocking away pucks from RIT forwards.

“It wasn’t anything special,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “They don’t do anything special. It was basically just be aggressive.”

The venue was different, the opponent was familiar, and the result was the same.

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