Ice Hockey

Syracuse ice hockey starting to turn around 3rd-period woes

Leigh Ann Rodgers | Contributing Photographer

Syracuse had been slumping in the third period of games to start out the year, but recently showed improvement in how it closes out games.

Head coach Paul Flanagan lamented his team’s poor conditioning after unraveling in the third period against Colgate on Oct. 21 in a 3-2 loss.

“Losing a step” in the third period every weekend had cost the Orange as its record sat at a disappointing 0-4-2 heading into conference play.

Snapping out of a third-period funk seemed paramount to SU’s success heading into a weekend series against Lindenwood. It did just that on Friday and Saturday in wins over the Lions.

As Abbey Miller pitched two straight shutouts for the Orange, the offense took over, scoring four goals in both games. Each night, Syracuse tallied a third-period goal. Showing the ability to finish games is a key for Syracuse (2-4-2, 2-0 College Hockey America), and Flanagan said it comes down to the team’s conditioning.

“If we’re slowing down in the third period then we need to figure out a way to keep going,” forward Alysha Burriss said. “And if that’s conditioning then that’s what we need to do. I think that for the most part we’re in pretty good shape, but there’s always room for improvement.”

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Leigh Ann Rodgers | Contributing Photographer

Through the first six games, SU allowed six goals in the third period, four of which were game-tying, go-ahead or game-winning.

The biggest let down of non-conference play came against Colgate when the Orange jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first ten minutes of the first game, only to watch it slowly slip away. Colgate scored the game-winning goal with 4:28 left in the game.

One of Flanagan’s biggest takeaways from that game was SU’s pattern of slowing down in the third period, thus letting teams back into games.

“I was a little frustrated,” Flanagan said, “I thought we were a step behind the last eight or ten minutes and that resulted in us just standing there watching on Friday night as (Colgate) scored the game winning goal.”

Fixing the conditioning problem is relatively simple and just requires a little more time and work in practice to close any gap between Syracuse and other teams, players said.

Players agreed with their coach but cited overconfidence and lack of enthusiasm late in games.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s our conditioning,” Heather Schwarz said, “I think we’re maybe holding up a bit going into the third. When we have a lead we’re not going as quickly because we’re like, ‘Oh, we have a lead, let’s slow it down a bit.’

“It gets to the second and third and it gets quiet on the bench and were not really cheering. We’re not keeping it upbeat.”

Syracuse found the solution to its third-period slump against Lindenwood. The Orange jumped out to commanding leads in both games, entering the third period up 3-0 each night.

SU did not slow down or let Lindenwood back in the game, notching its first two wins of the season.

“I know these girls are working really hard,” Schwarz said. “But you know, more conditioning never hurt anyone.”

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