by Janet Schultz, NYHOL
The Syracuse Women’s Ice Hockey Team will return to the ice at home Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23 against #2 in the CHA, Robert Morris.
While COVID seems to throw a curve in all ice hockey at all levels, the Orange are playing but minus their Head Coach Paul Flanagan. Flanagan is in non-Syracuse related COVID protocol for Friday nights game, but plans to be behind the bench on Saturday.
Stepping into the HC position is Brendon Knight, who has had head coaching experience prior to Syracuse, but who told media members today (Wednesday, Jan. 20) that he and Flanagan are in constant communication and that over the nine years he has been an Associate Head Coach, he and Flanagan share the duties and feels all will run smooth.
“This happens often at this level of hockey, especially when Head Coaches are coaching national teams,” said Knight.
Players agree according to Captain Jessica DiGirolamo.
“The team respects both coaches and we have good conversation with both of them and they both give great advice,” said DiGirolamo.
“We have been practicing this week with one coach and with both of them being good communicators Coach Knight is an extension of Paul’s coaching,” said Abby Moloughney, a junior forward.
While they agree the coaching issue is not going to be an problem, Robert Morris will be bringing with them a very disciplined team that has a good powerplay and outstanding goaltending. Add in the fact that they have played four games to this point and the Orange had their only scheduled game in the New York to Lindenwood postponed due to COVID at Lindenwood.
Two players are returning from injuries including Shelby Calof and Maddy Beishuizen. Still out from ankle surgery is Abigail Schauer.
Coach Knight emphasized that the team has been practicing, and while it has gotten a little stale just practicing, they have been anxious to get back on the ice and had a very good week of practice.
“We will keep things simple, and just get back into the flow of things,” said Knight. “We haven’t seen much of a drop-off even after being off for three weeks.”
“During the game I will do the little things I do and I am not afraid to step up and block a shot,” she said.
“It has been disappointing with the cancellations, but we will stay focused and disciplined,” she continued.
Moloughney, who has been described as the heart and soul of the team, has kept up her mental and physical game by getting to the rink early, spending time with teammates and putting in extra practice time when she can.
“I know if I work hard, my team is right behind me,” she emphasized.
Robert Morris is the team to be dealt with historically. Moloughney scored three goals in the series against Robert Morris last season and while the team knows this is a big game, she plans to remain calm and focused.
“I know the Robert Morris players and so I know what to expect. I will use that knowledge in the game,” she said.
They will hit the ice this weekend knowing that two of their alums are playing in their first professional women’s hockey games.
Allie Olnowich will skate with the Metropolitan Riveters and Lindsay Eastwood has signed with the new NWHL team, Toronto Six.
“They worked hard and it was not hard to work hard for them,” said Moloughney. “We will replicate what they do, knowing they moved on with their positive attitudes. We will follow that.”
While no fans are allowed in the stands, supporters of the Orange can go to their website, click on the schedule and then the icon to watch live.
Game time is 7 pm Friday and 3 pm Saturday.
The Orange will then head out on the road to Mercyhurst on January 29 and 30, RIT on February 2 before returning home February 5 and 6 to Mercyhurst.