IHOC : SU fails to hold early lead, falls in conference championship to rival Mercyhurst

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first_img Comments Ashley Cockell skated twice around the referee who penalized her, dismayed at the call that ended her college career. Restrained by another official, she made her reluctant entrance into the penalty box.Down by a goal with 1:19 remaining, Cockell sat with her head down as Syracuse played the conclusion of the College Hockey America championship game at a disadvantage.‘I think it was a stupid call late,’ Cockell said. ‘We were down one goal, and they’ve had my number all season so it was kind of tough.’The holding penalty thwarted any chance the Orange (14-16-6, 7-6-3 CHA) had to defeat its most rivaled opponent. The jubilation of an early 2-0 lead in the first period diminished as No. 3 Mercyhurst (29-5-0, 16-0 CHA) rallied to defeat Syracuse 5-4 in the conference championship game in front of 227 at the Tennity Ice Pavilion on Saturday.The 14th matchup between the two schools seemed like the most attainable victory for SU. Despite an overwhelming 13-3 shot margin in favor of the Lakers in the first period, the Orange was able to capitalize on both of its power-play opportunities. In fact, the power play was the primary mode of scoring opportunities for the Orange all game, as it scored four goals on eight power plays.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStefanie Marty got Syracuse off to a surprising start when she delivered a quick shot from the point past a wall of Mercyhurst defenders and under the arm of Lakers goaltender Hillary Pattenden. Ten minutes later, SU forward Margot Scharfe cleaned up a rebound in front of the net.As Isabel Menard came barreling into the celebration, nearly knocking over her teammates, it was clear the Orange would challenge Mercyhurst’s eight-year reign as CHA champions.‘It was great for us, and what a change,’ Menard said. ‘We were really struggling to score in the first period during the year, and for us to get those two in the first period gave us some confidence.’The confidence carried into the second period. Despite two goals from Meghan Agosta — the tournament’s most valuable player — by the halfway mark of the second period, Menard was able to respond. After Cockell faked a shot on the power play, she passed to Menard, who fired the puck into the net through the perplexed Lakers defense.It was the model for success. Extend the defense with a variety of fakes and shots from all angles. The formula was working.‘My main focus was to get their (penalty kill) to run a bit,’ Cockell said. ‘Get them to stretch out and give it to the open players. When (Isabel) scored that third goal, it was a huge lifter, and we knew we had the momentum going our way again.’But Mercyhurst scored to tie the game going into the second intermission, and in the third period the floodgates opened. The Lakers used two quick goals separated by just 21 seconds to take an insurmountable two-goal lead.Syracuse goalie Kallie Billadeau earned a spot on the all-tournament team after saving 41 shots in the game. But containing Agosta, the NCAA all-time leader in goals and points, proved too daunting of a task. Agosta tallied a hat trick when she scored the Lakers’ fifth goal of the game.SU head coach Paul Flanagan hoped she could be contained, but even he knew it was a tall task.‘She’s been their franchise player, and she just makes everyone around her better,’ Flanagan said. ‘You just can’t make mistakes, and she made us pay tonight.’The Orange tried to respond like it had all game, and it moved within a goal when senior Julie Rising took a pass from Marty and scored. The Orange continued to see chances turned aside by Pattenden before Cockell was whistled for the controversial penalty when she got tangled up with a Mercyhurst player.SU was one goal away from threatening Mercyhurst’s championship supremacy, but the penalty that put the Orange a player down gave the team little hope of getting over the hump.From the penalty box, all Cockell could do was watch. She watched as her career ended and as Syracuse’s final push to beat Mercyhurst in the last minute-plus failed.‘I think that was the best game we played all year,’ Cockell said. ‘I think we had them right where we wanted in the first 40 minutes, and they just got a couple bounces their way.’[email protected] Published on March 6, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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