Syracuse ice hockey enters season young, returning top scorers in pursuit of College Hockey America title

first_img Published on October 2, 2014 at 12:11 am Facebook Twitter Google+ With just one goalie with game experience and five seniors set to play this season, youth is abundant for the Syracuse women’s ice hockey team. But SU returns its three top goal scorers from last season, offering optimism and high expectations.“We’re so young as a team, so that’s probably our biggest challenge,” said senior Julie Knerr. “But we’re so good together that I’m not really worried about it.”Going into his team’s first game of the season against Colgate in Tennity Ice Pavilion at 7 p.m. on Thursday, SU head coach Paul Flanagan hopes to refine the team’s system and solidify the Orange’s top four lines.“I think it’s a big part for the upperclassmen to keep them (younger players) focused on the games and whatnot,” Knerr said. “Upperclassmen have a big role this season.”The Orange will look to junior Melissa Piacentini, first in goals scored last season, sophomore Jessica Sibley, second in goals, and junior Allie LaCombe, third, to lead the attack.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFlanagan didn’t want to reveal his starting line before the first game, but said he expects those three to play a good amount.“Right now we have a line that’s all freshmen,” he said Monday, naming forwards Stephanie Grossi, Emily Costales and Alysha Burris. “If we were playing tonight, they’d probably be the second group.”In goal, the Orange has a blank slate. The team carries three goalies, two of which are upperclassmen, but have no game experience. Jenn Gilligan, who transferred from New Hampshire after sitting out last season, is the likely starter, Flanagan said.If she does play Thursday night, she will be playing in her first game since the 2012–13 season. Flanagan said he is looking for the goalie that shows the most consistency, directing rebounds to corners and covering up loose pucks.It will be tough going up against a team that has already played in an exhibition game, especially considering SU has been practicing together for less than two weeks, Flanagan said. He also added that forming a lineup won’t be easy early on.The biggest challenge for the freshman will be learning the team’s system and adjusting to the faster pace of college hockey, Knerr said.And to do so, the young players will have to get to know the game as well as each other.“We’re trying to do a lot of team bonding to try and get the girls to know each other,” Knerr said. “We stay on the ice a little bit longer after practice to get those little touches in that we have to adjust for by gameday.”The team went apple picking and to the ropes course on South Campus to help build chemistry, and road trips will provide even more chances to get to know each other moving forward.“I am sure this group will have good team speed, it’s our home game,” Flanagan said, “and I am confident this group can compete and that’s, for starters, that’s what we’re looking for.” Commentslast_img read more