IHOC : Inability to score goals has led to Syracuse’s struggles in CHA play

first_imgWhen Isabel Menard left Syracuse after last season, she left a gaping hole in the top line of the Orange’s attack.And head coach Paul Flanagan has naturally relied on his experienced upperclassmen to fill the void, a daunting task given the team’s abundance of freshman players.‘We were in a hole right away. It’s like your losing players to free agency,’ Flanagan said. ‘There were a couple of younger players that we felt could have done more, and even the upperclassmen could have played better. So I think the disappointment is in that some of the kids didn’t pick up the slack.’The Orange’s lack of offensive production this season limited its success against conference opponents. And it has showed as Syracuse (9-20-3, 0-7-3 College Hockey America) sits in the cellar of the CHA standings. SU’s inability to capitalize on goal-scoring chances placed an enormous amount of pressure on the defensive unit, which struggled to go blow-for-blow with more talented opponents. If the Orange has any hope of advancing in the conference tournament, it will need timely offensive contributions from players who have underperformed.Menard’s absence from the SU lineup played a pivotal role as Flanagan tried to rally his troops before the start of this season. As a sophomore, Menard was an offensive force, accounting for more than 20 percent of the Orange offense and leading the team in goals, assists and points.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJunior forward Holly Carrie-Mattimoe said the team lost some flow in chemistry because of Menard’s decision to leave the program. That lack of rhythm carried over to the ice, where Syracuse struggled to put points on the board all season long.‘We were a little apprehensive because we had some unknowns coming into the year,’ Flanagan said. ‘The unknown was finding someone to fill that gap on offense.’With Menard gone, Syracuse leaned heavily on Carrie-Mattimoe and sophomore Margot Scharfe. The lack of threats around them led to inconsistencies for the offense as SU looked upon its best weapons to help carry the team.Instead of spreading the offense and generating better opportunities by moving the puck around, the offense stalled.Besides providing Syracuse with a talented goal scorer, Menard also created chances for other players on the team.This season, though, SU has whiffed when it comes to capitalizing on crucial goal-scoring chances. The Orange took numerous opponents down to the wire, but it couldn’t step up during crunch time.SU struggled to a 1-2-3 record in overtime games.‘We’ve struggled so much this season with capitalizing on an open net,’ Megan Skelly said. ‘If you take away all those ties, if you can capitalize those (ties) into wins, it makes a huge difference in points, and that’s been very frustrating for us.’Back on Jan. 20, SU skated to a 3-3 tie with Niagara at Tennity Ice Pavilion. And although the Orange rallied in the third period to even the score, it missed a game-changing opportunity.With a two-on-one breakaway that would have ended the game, Syracuse didn’t close the deal and settled for a tie with the Purple Eagles.Flanagan said those missed chances coupled with a poor percentage on the power play attack hampered Syracuse’s offensive attack and led to the frustrating season.When the Orange travels to face Niagara this weekend with CHA tournament seeding on the line, it will need to start taking more shots on net to put itself in a better position late in games.‘This time of year, you need to find a way to win games. But we seem to find ways to lose those tight games,’ Flanagan said. ‘We have to start making things happen.’[email protected]  Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more