Piacentini and Renault break assist record as the Orange sweeps doubleheader vs Lindenwood

The Syracuse women's ice hockey team finishes the regular season on a high note, winning both games this past weekend. The Orange heads into the playoffs riding a seven game win streak.

Melissa Piacentini assisted on SU’s third goal in Friday’s 6-1 win against the Lions, giving the senior a total of 58 assists in her career, surpassing Holly Carrie-Mattimore for the most helpers in program history. Later in the game, fellow senior Nicole Renault tied Piacentini's mark with an assist on the sixth and final goal. Piacentini added one more assist in Saturday's game to edge out Renault by one for the program lead.

The senior forward capped off her collegiate regular season career with 112 points (53 goals, 59 assists) in 142 games. Renault ended with 76 points (18 goals, 58 assists) in 143 regular season collegiate games. The Orange finished the season 18-13-3.


“I didn’t even know about it, you have to be focused on the team especially in this time of year," Piacentini said. “I don’t feel any different than before, you just have to keep playing.”


Her teammates refer to her as just “Tini.” And they were thrilled with her accomplishment.


“She’s been my roommate for four years, and we congratulated her. It’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m really happy for her,” said defenseman Nicole Renault. 


Head Coach Paul Flanagan added some praise of his own.


“This is the kind of kid she is, I just asked her how many assists she had and she didn’t know. That’s her. She’s a kid that just shows up every day to work. She’s gonna go down, in the record books, yes, but as one of our all-time best players just by the way she showed up every day for practice.”


With senior goaltender Jenn Gilligan out with an undisclosed injury, sophomore Abbey Miller got the start in net. She made 20 saves and almost recorded a shutout, until it was ruined with just 3:50 to go in the third period. This was her first appearance since November 28th, when she stopped 13 saves en route to a 5-2 win against No. 9 South Dakota. That performance was good enough to earn her CHA Goaltender of the Week.


In Saturday’s tilt, the game was much tighter, with neither team giving the other much. It was "Senior Day" for Syracuse, with a special ceremony honoring the soon-to-be graduates before the match.


Maddi Welch was in goal for the Orange, and the 2-0 win gave the freshman her first collegiate victory as well as her first shutout. She lost her only other start 4-3 to the UConn Huskies on October 17th.


Welch’s shutout was also almost spoiled in the third period on a breakaway, however Welch stood tall and made a big blocker save.

“It’s definitely exciting”, Welch beamed following the game. “I was trying to play as confidently as I could. I try to read shots as well as I can, and I could tell she was gonna deke and go far side on me. I tried to follow her as much as I could.”


Stephanie Grossi opened the scoring about 10 minutes into the game. The sophomore forward has been on fire the entire season, scoring 12 goals and adding 21 assists in 34 games. Jessica Sibley padded the lead with 7:41 to go in the second period off an incredible backhand snipe that beat Lindenwood goaltender Nicole Hensley blocker side.


“It was a good win for us and a good way for our seniors their regular season,” Flanagan said on Saturday. “I thought Lindenwood had a lot more energy, you can tell right from the get-go. I thought it was a much better game overall. You can win 8-0 and think you played alright, and you can lose 2-1 and think you played way better.”


The Orange earned a first round playoff bye and won’t play again until the CHA Semifinals in Buffalo, NY at the Harbor Center on March 4th. While it’s unknown whom Syracuse will play, the winners of the semifinals square off the next day in the CHA Championship on March 5th. 


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