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Syracuse Orange defeats RIT 3-1

The Syracuse University Orange women’s hockey team took their first College Hockey America victory in the 2023-24 season, defeating the RIT Tigers, 3-1.

By Russell Jaslow

The Syracuse University Orange women’s hockey team took their first College Hockey America victory in the 2023-24 season, defeating the RIT Tigers, 3-1.

After losing at home the night before to RIT, 4-1, Syracuse returned the favor as the road team in the Gene Polisseni Center.

“It was a hard 60 minutes for us,” Syracuse coach Britni Smith said. “Nice to get the win for our last game for the semester.”

Syracuse weathered the storm in the first 10 minutes as RIT came out controlling play.

“We expected that,” Smith said. “The first road period, we needed to get our legs under us. Definitely, a shout-out to our goalie keeping us in that first period.”

Allie Kelley made 13 saves in that first period. While she was holding down the fort, Darci Johal scored two late-period goals to give her team a 2-0 lead.

Shortly after killing a penalty, Alexandria Weiss fed Johal at the right circle. Johal shot it up high, and the puck ricocheted off the metal into the net. There was a brief video review to confirm it went in at 16:41.

Less than two minutes later at 18:18, Johal was at it again. Tatum White from the high slot fed Johal at the top of the crease, which she easily redirected in.

“She’s someone who has generated a lot of opportunities in the last three, four, five games, but just hasn’t been able to find the back of the net,” Smith said. “It’s really nice to see her break out tonight and get two big goals in a period I feel like we were outworked.”

This was the graduate student transfer from Holy Cross first two-goal game for the Orange, and the second of her career. The effort garnered her the number one star of the game.

The second period has been a weak link for Syracuse this season.

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“I thought in the second period we didn’t give up as much as we’ve seen in the past,” Smith said. “A big conversation we had was we’re up two, so we really have to walk in defensively and our offense will come from that.”

The conversation worked. RIT got only five shots in that period, and Syracuse extended the lead to 3-0. Kate Holmes’ cross-crease pass from right to left created a wide-open net for Sarah Thompson to easily tap it in at 3:50.

RIT ruined Kelley’s shutout attempt at 5:32 of the third period. From inside the left circle, Mia Tsilemos fired a shot into the upper far corner. Kelley ended the game with 27 saves.

RIT briefly pulled their goalie, but a Tigers penalty negated that strategy.

Syracuse’s CHA-leading penalty kill continued to stymie the opposition. RIT went scoreless on four power plays.

“I thought we played a pretty consistent 60,” Smith said.

The battle of the orange jerseys will resume in February for another home-and-home affair on the next to last weekend of the regular season.

In the meantime, Syracuse can enjoy a much-needed conference victory.

Smith said, “We want to make sure we come back ready to go. Every conference game for us is a playoff mentality.” Only the top four teams make the CHA playoffs.

But first, Syracuse (4-13-2, 1-6-1) has a home non-conference game on December 5 against ECAC foe and current #4 in the latest USCHO.com poll, Colgate.

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