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Syracuse hopes strong power play translates to better even strength offense

first_imgTaking one touch at the point, Syracuse defenseman Jessica DiGirolamo settled a tape-to-tape pass from freshman Lauren Bellefontaine on the power play and brought her stick back, teeing up for a slapshot. The Mercyhurst goalie stood no chance of making a save with numerous bodies in front, and the puck whizzed past her into the net.Later in the same game, a 4-2 loss to Mercyhurst on Oct. 12, DiGirolamo received another pass at the point. This time, she wound her stick back on the ice with the puck on it before releasing a wrist shot that caused a rebound. Bellefontaine, in front of the net, slotted home the Orange’s second power play goal of the night.It’s not a scene that was present often last season, and when it was, it didn’t feature the same names. DiGirolamo didn’t have any goals, down a player, last year. This year she has two in nine games.“Last year, I was nervous to shoot the puck because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” DiGirolamo said. “But this year, I’ve gained the confidence, and I’m shooting the puck well.”Head coach Paul Flanagan is encouraged by what he’s seeing when his team has a power play. Syracuse (4-6, 4-2 College Hockey America) has the most effective power play in the CHA at 19.6 percent, and sits No. 11 in the nation. The Orange are also second to Mercyhurst in total power play goals in the CHA with nine, fifth most in the nation.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAll this comes after poor performance on the power play last year when SU scored 19 goals in 36 games at a 13.2 percent conversion rate. Flanagan chalks up the improvement to having two strong power play units this season, as well as the emergence of DiGirolamo, Bellefontaine and Abby Moloughney.Bellefontaine and Moloughney each have one goal on the power play.“We jammed too much on one power play a year ago, and now it’s kind of spread out,” Flanagan said. “There’s times when you back yourself into a corner when you have one power play, and when they’re not producing, that makes it tough.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorOn Oct. 26, in a 6-2 loss to Clarkson, the power play unit Flanagan runs struggled, but assistant coach Brendon Knight’s power play unit went onto the ice and scored a goal courtesy of Emma Polaski, who has three power play goals this season.“It’s not a competition (between the two units), but at least we have some depth,” Flanagan said.The two power play units have different formations — one is a 2-3 and the other a 1-3-1. A 2-3 features two defenders at the point and three forwards deeper in the zone, and a 1-3-1 has only one defenseman at the point with four players deeper in the zone, one of which sits in front of or behind the net. Flanagan said the two formations can look very similar at times, and the reasons they’ve been successful are the same. It’s been about making good reads, and whether Syracuse scores on the back door, off an ugly rebound or from a loose puck, the units have found ways to make it work.The defensemen have also played a big role in that success, and that’s not exclusive to the power play. Both in bringing the puck through the neutral zone and keeping the puck in the offensive zone, Flanagan said the coaching staff has tried to incorporate the weak side defender more.“We’re trying to get our D to stay up and do more things offensively because some of our defensemen are pretty creative when they have the puck,” he said. “We’re pushing that because I think we need it.”Flanagan hopes the numbers his players have put up on the power play can also translate to 5-on-5 play. The Orange have scored 17 even-strength goals this season, the third lowest total in the CHA, due to “not generating enough,” Flanagan said.“We get some shots, but we need to get grade-A chances,” he said. “We just have to take some of the cues that have been working for us on the power play — moving the puck quickly, being aggressive, getting on loose pucks — and be more proactive when 5-on-5.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 5, 2018 at 10:24 pm Contact Arabdho: [email protected] | @aromajumder center_img Commentslast_img

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