Working the Wildcats

Freshman goalie Kallie Billadeau stuffs UNH during her first start in net.

The Syracuse women's goalie looked like a seasoned veteran in net during Friday night’s game against the No. 8 New Hampshire Wildcats. Kallie Billadeau stopped the puck with all parts of her body and in all situations, even as the Orange faced a 5-on-3 power play--and she did it all in her first collegiate start between the pipes.

The freshman goalie anchored the Syracuse defense en route to a 4-2 victory.  Billadeau’s teammates played well in front of her, but they also helped her mentally prepare for the game.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Billadeau said. “I was really nervous and the girls helped me calm down a lot. They supported me through the whole thing, and it was all I could ask for.”

The Orange scored the first four goals of the night, and the top line of Stefanie Marty, Julie Rising and Megan Skelly were on the ice for two of the goals All three finished the night with a plus/minus rating of +2

Orange Head Coach Paul Flanagan praised his starters for their performance.

“Julie and Stef have played together for three years for the most part,” Flanagan said. “They feed off each other. They think alike.  Megan Skelly compliments them well.”

Ashley Cockell scored Syracuse's second goal, her first for the team after transferring from Mercyhurst last year. Isabel Menard picked up an assist on that second period tally.

“It was pretty quick,” Cockell said of her goal. “I deked around the defenseman and went five-hole on the goalie. [I feel] pretty excited.”

Cockell is a natural defenseman who played on the blue line until last season, but she played forward with the Canadian National Team over the summer. After starting Syracuse’s last game at defense, the coaching staff made the decision to move her to an attacking position.

“We just thought we’d put her up front because she’s so talented,” Flanagan said. “We thought it was worth a try.”

Both Cockell and Menard spent some time on defense to assist a young defensive core. The Orange also lost blue liner Caitlin Roach early in the game to a broken clavicle.  

Friday’s game against a strong UNH lineup was a physical one, and consequently one in which players drew a lot of penalty minutes, especially late in the game. Syracuse served 11 penalties and the Wildcats served seven.

The Orange penalty kill shone throughout the game, killing off nine of 10 UNH power plays, including one 5-on-3 opportunity.

 “The first period I thought was good; they let us play quite a bit,” Cockell said. “As the game went on, it seemed like the penalties were going more against us. We fought it off pretty well.”

One of Billadeau’s biggest challenges came at the start of the third period, when the Wildcats had 42 seconds of their two-man advantage spill over from the end of the second period, which was followed by nearly a minute of a regular 5-on-4 advantage.

“I was very impressed,” Flanagan said of Billadeau’s play. “[UNH’s] players are all well rested, you know they’ve been going over it in the locker room. [Billadeau] was very calm and handled her rebounds. Positionally she was solid. She gave the penalty killers a lot of confidence.”

Syracuse will face their second top-10 opponent in less than 24 hours when they take on Boston College today at 4 p.m.  BC is ranked No. 10 in the poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/USA Hockey women’s poll. 

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