Recap: Syracuse, RIT Win Playoff Openers

Recap: Syracuse, RIT Win Playoff Openers

Syracuse 4, Lindenwood 1

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Allie LaCombe scored her fifth game-winning goal of the season in the Orange ice hockey team's (19-13-3) 4-1 rout of Lindenwood (5-25-3) on Friday night at Tennity Ice Pavilion in the first round of the College Hockey America Tournament.

Syracuse is just one win away from moving on to the semifinal round against Mercyhurst, the host of the final rounds of the CHA Tournament. SU and Lindenwood rematch tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in Tennity in the second contest of the best-of-three series.

"We had to frustrate them in the third period by getting our feet moving and making plays," head coach Paul Flanagan said. "We needed to play at our level and in our style. I give our team credit for a good third period not only on the scoreboard but in a lot of little areas on the ice."

Four different Orange scored a goal in the contest and seven SU skaters notched a point in the win. Jessica Sibley and Nicole Renault each had a goal and an assist in the game.

Jenesica Drinkwater made 20 stops throughout the game to shut out the Lady Lions for 56:27. Nicole Hensley saved 36 of the Syracuse's 40 attempts on net.

Neither team was able to get on the board in the first period despite three total power play opportunities. The Orange put nine tries on target and held Lindenwood to just four but some exceptional saves on both ends kept the score at 0-0 going into the second stanza.

Freshman Heather Schwarz was the first to score, shooting one top shelf from the left side to open scoring near the end of the second period. Renault passed the puck from the top of the faceoff circle to Schwarz, who was able to get it past Hensley to give Syracuse a 1-0 lead 17:23 into the second stanza.

The Orange didn't waste much time getting its second tally on the scoreboard at the beginning of the third period. LaCombe stole the puck at center ice and worked it up the left side to the faceoff circle. She passed to Caitlin Roach and skated to the goalies far side to receive the puck and easily shoot it past the Lion net minder to give SU a 2-0 lead 3:06 into the period.

Syracuse scored again just 27 seconds later, winning the faceoff at center ice and getting the puck to Renault in the left circle, who fired a shot at Hensley and increased the Orange advantage to 3-0 with 16:27 left in the game. Sibley scored with 5:32 remaining to pad the Syracuse lead, now at 4-0.

Lindenwood ended the shutout with just 3:33 left on the clock when Alyssa West tipped in a shot on Drinkwater's far side, bringing the score to 4-1 but it wasn't enough to keep up with the Orange.

Overall, Syracuse outshot Lindenwood 65-40, monopolizing the puck in the final 20 minutes. The Orange also edged the Lions in the faceoff circle 21-18.

Courtesy Syracuse Athletic Communications

The Lindenwood women's ice hockey team fell in 1-0 hole in its CHA Tournament First-Round series with Syracuse. The Lady Lions lost on Friday night in game one of the best-of-three series by a 4-1 margin.

The game was scoreless for the first 37 minutes before Syracuse broke it up with three goals in just over a six-minute span. The Orange scored once in the second period at the 17:23 mark. Syracuse then scored two times in 27 seconds early in the third period. The Orange added one more goal at the 14:28 mark before the Lady Lions scored late to make the final margin three goals.

Caitlyn Post had Lindenwood's goal with assists from Kendra Broad and Alyssa West. Post was also a plus-one for the game. Nicole Hensley made 35 saves in goal.

Game two of the series will take place on Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y. at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. central time).

Courtesy Lindenwood Athletic Communications



RIT 3, Penn State 2 [OT]

ROCHESTER, NY – Junior forward Celeste Brown (Great Falls, MT/National Sports Academy) scored 10:15 into overtime to lift the RIT women's hockey team (17-15-3) to a wild 3-2 win over Penn State (4-28-3) in game one of the College Hockey America First Round series from Ritter Arena on Fridayevening. The Tigers have now won four straight contests.

Both teams had excellent chances to win it in the extra session before Brown's goal. Just 20 seconds into overtime, Erin Zach (Elmira, Ontario/Cambridge Fury) fired a shot from the faceoff circle that caromed off a body, then off the shoulder of Penn State goaltander Nicole Paniccia and off the post.

Penn State had just two shots in overtime, but both happened to be breakaway opportunities. First, Jenna Welch came in all alone on RIT goaltender Ali Binnington (Oakville, Ontario/Mississauga Chiefs) off a giveaway, but the RIT goaltender stood her ground to make the save with 11:45 left. Nearly two minutes later, Jill Holdcroft had a second breakaway and tried to beat Binnington with a backhander, but she slid across and kept the puck out, keeping the score tied.

On the ensuing rush up the ice, RIT was able to get a scoring chance and a faceoff in the Penn State zone. On that faceoff, Kourtney Kunichika (Fullerton, CA/LA Selects) won the draw to Melissa Bromley (Aurora, Ontario/Aurora Panthers), who tipped a pass to Brown in the slot. Brown fired a rocket off a wrist shot through trafffic and past Paniccia under the crossbar for her 11th goal of the season, sending the Ritter Arena faithful home happy.

Jess Paton (Woodstock, Ontario/Waterloo K-W Rangers) and Caitlin Wallace (Brantford, Ontario/Assumption Collegiate) scored goals 1:26 apart for the Tigers in the second period. Wallace's goal was the first of her collegiate career. In net, Binnington was rock solid, stopping 36 shots for her 13th win of the season.

Shannon Yoxheimer scored both Penn State goals. Paniccia was strong in net for the Nittany Lions, making 44 saves.

RIT out-shot Penn State, 47-36. The Nittany Lions were 1-for-2 with the man-advantage, while RIT was 0-for-2.

RIT head coach Scott McDonald was releived to get the win, but knows his team has to play better tomorrow in order to advance in the postseason.

"Celeste (Brown) has a nice hard wrist shot and when she gets in the right spot, it's tough to stop," said McDonald. "Ali (Binnington) got the job done in net for us, especially in the overtime, giving us a chance to win the game, and showing that she is one of the best goalies in the country. Tomorrow, we have to play better, play a full 60 minutes, not two periods like we did tonight. It will be key to make Penn State play our pace."

The Tigers struggled in the first period, failing to generate much in the way of quality scoring chances, while Penn State netted the lone goal, out-shooting RIT 12-9.

At the 10:35 mark, Yoxheimer rocketed a hard slap shot from the left side on a 2-on-1 break off the glove of Binnington and in for her seventh goal of the season. Taylor Gross took advantage of a RIT turnover at the Penn State blue line and fed Yokheimer, who came into the RIT zone with a full head of steam.

RIT scored twice in a span of 1:26 early in the second period before Penn State netted the equalizer to make it a 2-2 game after 40 minutes of play.

At the 3:24 mark of the period, Paton crashed the net and put home a rebound of a shot from Lindsay Grigg (Oakville, Ontario/Oakville Hornets) to even the game at 1-1. Grigg took a shot from the right side that Paniccia stopped, but the puck sat in the crease. Cassie Clayton (Pickering, Ontario/PEAC School) took a swipe at the puck in the crease, getting a piece before Paton put swpt in the rebound.

Just 1:26 later, Wallace intercepted an errant clearing attempt, took three strides in and fired a wrist shot from the slot past Paniccia for her first collegiate goal.

Penn State would tie the game at the 8:43 mark on the power-play, as Yoxheimer shoveled in a loose puck from the crease after Binnington made the initial save on a shot by Laura Bowman. Amy Petersen took a shot that was blocked right to Bowman in close. Bowman's shot went off Binnington right to Yoxheimer, who was on the doorstep for the goal.

Neither team scored in a hectic third period in which the two teams combined for 31 shots.

Penn State's Holdcroft came in all alone on a breakaway with 8:20 left and tried to beat Binnington high over the shoulder but flipped the puck over the net. Moments later, Binnington had to come up huge on a tip attempt from Bowman in tight.

RIT received a power-play with 7:29 left and from there, dominated play from the rest of regulation. On that ensuing power-play, the Tigers peppered Paniccia, firing five shots, but the Penn State goaltender held her ground. Paniccia made a save on Morgan Scoyne (Drumbo, Ontario/Stoney Creek Sabres), with the puck sitting in the crease, but somehow, it stayed out. Later in regulation, Paniccia had to come up big on a couple of chances from Zach and Marissa Maugeri (Ajax, Ontario/Durham West Lightning).

RIT is 18-12 all-time in postseason contests at the Division I and III levels, since women's hockey was recognized as a NCAA Championship sport in 2001. Since McDonald took over as head coach in 2006, RIT is 14-7 in the postseason, including a 14-3 mark at Ritter Arena. The Tigers are 13-1 at home in the postseason over the last four seasons, including a 5-0 mark en route to winning the 2012 NCAA Division III National Championship. Last season, the Tigers advanced to the CHA Semifinals, defeating Penn State in a two-game sweep in the first round, both by one-goal outcomes, before falling to Syracuse in overtime of the semifinals.

Tonight was the fifth meeting between the two schools this season, as RIT holds a 4-0-1 edge this far. RIT won a pair of one-goal games against Penn State at Ritter Arena on Nov. 15-16. The two teams skated to a 2-2 tie at Penn State on Jan. 31, while the Tigers skated to a 3-1 win the next day. RIT is 9-0-2 all-time against the Nittany Lions.

Game two of the best of three series gets underway at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday. If necessary, game three will be at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday.

Courtesy RIT Athletic Communications

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.) recorded her first two-goal game of the season and the Penn State women's hockey team lost in heartbreak, 3-2, at RIT in the first game of a CHA First Round series at Ritter Arena Friday night. Nicole Paniccia(Oakville, Ont.) made 44 saves in Penn State's longest game in program history.

An eventful opening 60 minutes of play led to an exciting 10:15 of overtime hockey as both Penn State (4-28-3) and RIT (17-15-3) had chances to end the game. In fact, Penn State's two best chances came immediately before Celeste Brown's game-winner.

Jenna Welch (Austin, Texas) couldn't convert an RIT turnover in front of its own net as Ali Binnington (34 saves) was there for the save. Twenty seconds before the Brown winner, Jill Holdcroft (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.) had her second breakaway chance of the game stopped by Binnington as the ensuing clear was covered by Paniccia, leading to the faceoff that would provide Brown's goal.

The 70:15 of game time was the most in Penn State women's hockey history and the second time the two teams entered overtime in the CHA Tournament. Last year's deciding game was a 3-2 RIT winner at Ritter Arena.

The Tigers now lead the all-time series, the most played in PSU history, 9-0-2. Six of the last seven contests between the two teams have been decided by a goal or less. The two teams meet Saturday for Game 2, which will get started at 2 p.m.

Penn State continued its trend of strong starts against RIT as the Nittany Lions controlled most of the play and scored the game's first goal. Yoxheimer ripped her seventh of the year on a 2-on-1 rush with a left-winged effort with 9:25 remaining in the period. Linemate Taylor Gross(Colorado Springs, Colo.) was credited with her eighth assist of the year on the play.

The Nittany Lions maintained the 1-0 lead through the end of the period as Penn State out-shot RIT 12-9. Paniccia stoned all nine Tiger shots. Penn State scored first against RIT for the fourth time in five meetings this season. PSU has held a lead in every game between the two teams this season.

The script was flipped in the second period as RIT came out flying, peppering the Blue and White goal. Jess Paton evened the score just 3:24 into the frame on a mad scramble in front of the cage with assists credited to Cassie Clayton and Lindsay Grigg.

The Tigers took their first lead of the game 86 seconds later as Caitlin Wallace forced a turnover in PSU's zone and beat Paniccia under her glove for the 2-1 edge. The goal was Wallace's first of her career.

Penn State would settle down and break their power-play scoring drought with Yoxheimer's second of the night and eighth of the season with 11:17 remaining in the period to knot the score at two apiece. Amy Petersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) found Laura Bowman (Minnetonka, Minn.) for an intermediary pass before Bowman slid the puck down low to Yoxheimer who made no mistake.

PSU's extra-player goal was its first in 18 games, a span that dated to Nov. 23, 2013 in a 4-1 win over Lindenwood. The skid included 66 trips on the power play without scoring a goal for the Nittany Lions. After two periods, RIT held a 24-20 advantage in shots following a 15-8 margin for the second period.

The third period was played at a frantic pace that saw each team go through strings of opportunities to gain the game-winning goal. The Nittany Lions fired nine of the period's first 12 shots, in the process surpassing their highest total against RIT in any contest (23 on three occasions). The best chance of the period came with 8:12 remaining in the period as Holdcroft, who scored two times in her last appearance at Ritter Arena, had a breakaway shot that just missed the frame to put the Lions ahead.

RIT would take over from there, starting with a power play that yielded five consecutive shots as Paniccia was there to stop them all. The Tigers would finish the third period with a run of 14 of the last 18 shots in the period, taking a 41-34 margin into the third intermission. The overtime game presented the fourth in the 11-game series between the two teams and the second consecutive overtime contest in the CHA Tournament.

Penn State fired 36 shots to RIT's 47, while going 1-for-2 on the power play and killing off both Tiger power plays. RIT won the faceoff battle, 42-32, while Penn State blocked 17 shots to RIT's seven.

Courtesy Penn State Athletic Communications