first_imgBUFFALO — Syracuse had just scored a goal on either side of the first intermission and held Robert Morris scoreless. Momentum was on the Orange’s side despite getting outshot through 20 minutes, and another College Hockey America tournament finals run inched closer. But at the game’s halfway point everything changed. Byrnn Koocher tripped a Colonials player and gave the third-best power play in the nation a chance to cut Syracuse’s lead.For the first minute of the power play, SU maintained its shutout. But as Lexi Templeman drifted through the offensive zone, she moved the Orange defense with her. Instead of taking a shot, she slid a pass across her body to a wide open Jaycee Gebhard. The CHA’s leading scorer just tapped the puck into an open net off a blown coverage, and Syracuse’s lead no longer seemed as secure.“We thought we had a little bit of momentum with that start of the second period,” defender Lindsay Eastwood said, “We were flying and we were going and they just grabbed the momentum from us.”Forty-four seconds later, the lead Syracuse built was gone when Anjelica Diffendal snapped a shot past Allison Small. Four minutes later, the Orange trailed. Syracuse (14-20-2, 12-8-2 CHA) couldn’t keep up with Robert Morris’s five unanswered goals, and it was the Colonials (20-11-4, 14-5-2) who advanced to the conference title game with a 5-2 win.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut the game could’ve been different. At the end of the second period, Syracuse scored as Kelli Rowswell slotted a rebound into the back of the net. Or so it thought. A goal review ensued, and the officials determined that Colonials goalie Raygan Kirk had already frozen the puck, waving off the goal. “Tough call on the goal that was disallowed, that would have given us a huge boost,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “I’m not really going to say too much other than I don’t agree with the call.” Instead of going into the third period tied, the Orange were down.With its season on the line, Syracuse needed to come out of the intermission firing. It didn’t, and the Orange needed almost 14 minutes to register their first shot on Kirk’s net. Their faithful were stunned into silence, and the once-quiet Robert Morris fans rejoiced as the Colonials lead extended to three. With long periods of possession in the Syracuse zone, Robert Morris picked its passes and sent shot after shot on Small. On the Colonials’ fourth goal, Diffendal sat behind the net and dished a pass to Natalie Marcuzzi, who fired past Small.“I thought that fourth one was kinda the one that broke our backs,” Flanagan said, “And the fifth one was I guess the dagger.”By the time the Colonials scored the fourth goal Syracuse didn’t seem to have a chance at wrestling momentum back in their favor. Whether it was Koocher having her shot saved on the breakaway or Madison Beishuizen firing wide on the rush, SU just couldn’t keep up with Robert Morris. Every time Syracuse attempted to break out of their own zone the puck was poked off their sticks and back into the hands of a Colonials defender. Wave after wave of Robert Morris offense began as a result, stifling any momentum the Orange mustered.“I just thought their pressure forced our D in particular, into a lot of passes and plays they don’t want to make,” Flanagan said. “That was kind of a constant turnover.The turnovers began to mount and soon the fatigue kicked in for SU. Robert Morris, fresh of their first-round bye, kept firing. They suffocated the Orange in their own zone, passing the puck along the boards and peppering Small with shots. It all came back to the one penalty in the second period: a 44-second Robert Morris scoring spell that flipped the game and Syracuse’s season. It was a problem that plagued the Orange all season, but that one gave Robert Morris a lifeline and sent Syracuse packing. “They made the plays and we didn’t,” Flanagan said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 6, 2020 at 8:52 pm Contact Gaurav: [email protected]last_img