SU falls to Clarkson in women's ice hockey

Sisters Carly and Cayley Mercer lead Clarkson past Syracuse, 2-1.

Sparked by two goals and an assist from the Mercer sisters, senior Carly and sophomore Cayley, No. 3 Clarkson (4-0) doubled up the Orange, 2-1, in front of 234 fans at Tennity Ice Pavilion.

Despite being outshot 41-18, Syracuse stayed within striking distance the entire game. However, it just couldn’t muster enough offense.

“They’re a skilled team down low. They generated more shots, and they’re going to do that because they have skill,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “It’s a 2-1 loss, but if we execute on a couple occasions, who knows? We’ve got certain elements of our game that have to get better.”

Carly Mercer broke the scoreless deadlock with just under two minutes remaining in the first period. The initial shot by Jamie Lee Rattray was turned aside by Orange goalie Kallie Billadeau, but Mercer was next to the net to smack home the rebound. Cayley Mercer also had an assist on the tally.

That was the story of the game for Billadeau. She had no time to relax as Clarkson peppered her with a continuous barrage of pucks. A number of turnovers by Syracuse in its own zone didn’t help matters.

Flanagan was visibly livid on the bench, yelling at his players to be more disciplined.

“They’re the No. 3 team in the country for obvious reasons. They’re gonna go hard and we’re gonna turn the puck over,” Billadeau said. “It’s a matter of coming back and fine-tuning so we have a different outcome.”

Any chance for a comeback in the second period was dashed thanks to four minor penalties taken by the Orange. But the penalty-killers stood strong and held the Golden Knights scoreless on the man-advantage.

“I know after the second period, they were 0 for 4 with 3 shots on net, and that’s impressive.” Flanagan said of the Clarkson power play. “It’s really just the kids. How they worked the positioning, stayed in shooting lanes and blocking shots.”

Carly Mercer struck again only three minutes into the final frame. Rattray ripped a slap shot from inside the blue line, and Mercer was beautifully positioned to the right of Billadeau for the deflection.

Down 2-0, the Orange began applying pressure and eventually drew two simultaneous penalties for a five-on-three opportunity. Only 40 seconds later, defenseman Nicole Renault sent a bullet from the middle of the zone that flew passed a screened Erica Howe to put Syracuse on the board.

However, the remaining power play time went to waste, and the Orange never mounted a serious charge for the game-tying goal.

“It definitely brought the energy back to the bench because that made it a one-goal difference, and we just kept pushing,” Renault said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t get the other one, but we just didn’t get the shots we needed to.”

Although he was frustrated by the end result, Flanagan said the team had a number of positives to take from the contest. More than anything, he commended his team’s persistence while playing from behind.

“Our compete level, I’m pleased with. Our execution, we’ve got a long way to go,” Flanagan said. “Overall, I was pleased with our work ethic. We definitely skated with them.”

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