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IHOC : First conference win gives Syracuse momentum heading into postseason

first_imgJacquie Greco and her teammates were playing for more than their first conference win last Saturday afternoon.Stuck in last place with no way to advance out of the College Hockey America basement, a win against Niagara meant nothing to Syracuse’s grim spot in the standings. It didn’t matter, though. Greco and her teammates were playing for something else.‘Pride. We needed a conference win,’ Greco said. ‘We needed a win in general. We needed all the things going for us. We needed the bounces to go our way. They happen to go our way that game, so it was good for us.’The Orange got the bounces and beat Niagara for its first conference win of the season Saturday. After a loss to the Purple Eagles on Friday, SU (10-21-3, 1-8-3 CHA) had no chance to move out of last place in the conference. Going into the weekend slate of games, Syracuse players had a goal to sweep the series and sneak into a third-place finish. Instead, SU split the two-game set. Still, finding one win for the Orange was still a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.‘We mostly did it for ourselves,’ Greco said. ‘Obviously the second game didn’t really matter regarding standings-wise, so we obviously did it for ourselves and to prove to ourselves we’re good enough to play with any team in the league.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the program’s four years of existence, SU head coach Paul Flanagan stared down the bleak possibility of not winning a conference game for the first time. Even in the program’s inaugural year, Syracuse didn’t have to worry about sweating out a win in the final regular-season game of the year.The Orange has kept games close, though, losing four conference games by one goal. And Flanagan feels luck hasn’t been on SU’s side for most of the season.On Friday, it even made him wonder if his team was snake-bitten in a 3-2 overtime loss.One Purple Eagles goal deflected off Catlin Roach’s pad and into the net for an early goal. Then the deciding score in the extra period hit off a defender’s head and past goalie Kallie Billadeau for the winning goal.‘We were starting to scratch our head, like what do we have to do to win,’ Flanagan said. ‘You really start to wonder are we going to get one of the bounces to go our way.’But for once at least, Syracuse did get the luxury of luck. And as Flanagan said, the team makes its own breaks. After starting on the penalty kill due to a questionable penalty against the Orange, SU was able to kill it off.Shortly after, Syracuse was on the power play as a result of what Flanagan thought was ‘probably a makeup call’ in favor of his team.That’s when Margot Scharfe capitalized with a goal. For the first time all season, Syracuse tasted a CHA victory. An unfamiliar feeling that Megan Skelly said was important for the Orange.‘I think any time you’re struggling it’s hard to keep positive in the team atmosphere because you’re struggling that hard it’s like maybe we’re not that good,’ Skelly said. ‘But I think we proved to ourselves that we should beat a team like that.’Greco said a weight was lifted off the shoulders of the 17 underclassmen. Though she said they’ve been doing great all year, the win still provided some extra confidence.It’s a confidence that came just in time for Syracuse. Now Syracuse faces top-seeded Mercyhurst in the first round of the conference tournament.While Syracuse has suffered a pile of losses this season, for once, it finally got to celebrate a win in the locker room and on a three-hour bus ride home. And in the most important stretch of the season coming up, Syracuse finally has momentum to ride.‘It’s huge,’ Flanagan said. ‘In terms of just having that energy, you know what it’s like and your just not fretting and walking away, ‘What do we have to do?’ You put that behind you and just move forward with some positive energy.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 27, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more