After amassing an 11-4-1 record in College Hockey America action and finishing the regular season atop the standings, Syracuse defeated RIT and Mercyhurst en route to their second postseason title in franchise history.
Here are the full video highlights from the championship game:
All five teams in the CHA convened on Syracuse for tournament weekend, with the RIT Tigers and Lindenwood Lions kicking things off in the lone quarterfinal matchup. RIT, who had only won one game over the course of the regular season, surprised Lindenwood with a 6-4 victory to punch their ticket to the semifinal.
The first-place Orange needed overtime to beat the Tigers in their semifinal, narrowly capturing a 3-2 win to make it to the title game despite outshooting their opponents vastly, 52 to 12. The Lakers, meanwhile, bested Penn State 4-2 to advance.
Despite having the obvious advantage, it was never a guarantee that Syracuse would make it to the championship game, but in the end, that's what they did.
Syracuse senior Abby Moloughney had a spectacular tournament weekend. She recorded a hat trick in the semifinal against RIT, then opened the scoring in the final. Late in the first period, Moloughney picked up a great pass from graduate student Victoria Klimek in front of the net and tucked it home.
"Overall, it was just getting into that mentality that you've got to give it your all," Moloughney said. "You don't want to leave the rink having lost and knowing that you could've done better."
Moloughney pointed to her team's calm demeanor, in both the semifinal and championship game, as a key to their success. Even when things got "a bit hectic," the Orange maintained their composure.
"I think that was probably the reason why we won both games," she added.
Although the Lakers went into the intermission down by a goal, they arguably had more dangerous chances in the opening twenty minutes and couldn't be counted out. The deficit, however, increased early in the middle frame when freshman forward Sarah Marchand scored.
What could have been a game-changing moment came later in the period, when a potential Syracuse marker was ruled no-goal after a quick whistle. The puck had slid until the goaltender's glove, but she didn't really have possession. With that, the Lakers narrowly avoided going down by three goals and used that momentum to finally get themselves on the board.
Sophomore forward Sara Boucher fought off several Syracuse players as she approached the goal, maintained possession, and made no mistake on the shot that entered the net.
Play remained steady throughout the rest of the game, and graduate student forward Alexa Vasko tied the game nearly eight minutes into the third period. The teams remained locked after sixty minutes, paving the way to an overtime period.
Sophomore forward Sarah Thompson scored the championship-winning goal with 12:39 left in the first overtime period. She pounced on a rebound in front of the net and capitalized on it, giving Syracuse the victory on their home ice.
"We never backed down," said Syracuse captain Jessica DiGirolamo. "Obviously, they got those two goals and tied it up, but we never gave up. We were going to win this game."
For head coach Paul Flanagan, the win is extra sweet. He's been a part of Syracuse's women's ice hockey program since its beginnings in March 2008 and has been a significant contributor in leading the team to where it is today.
"I've been doing this a long time," he said after Saturday's win. "This never gets old. I get old, but this never gets old."
Moloughney, with four goals, was named Tournament MVP and named to the All-Tournament Team. Joining her were DiGirolamo and goaltender Arielle DeSmet, who made 39 saves in the postseason. Other All-Tournament Team members: Mercyhurst junior defender Jordan Mortlock & freshman forward Vanessa Upson, and RIT senior forward Abby Davies. Davies became the first RIT player to record a hat trick in CHA postseason history.
The 2022 championship is the second in Syracuse's history. Their previous title came in 2019, when they bested Robert Morris after going 13-21-3 and entering the CHA tournament as the #3 seed. That year, they were defeated by Wisconsin 4-0 in the NCAA playoffs.
Syracuse is now awaiting word on its first-round NCAA opponent. The NCAA selection show is Sunday, March 6 at 9:00 PM Eastern on ESPN News.
(Photo: Gavin Liddell)