first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ BUFFALO  — Jaycee Gebhard’s face burned red as she skated to the penalty box. The Robert Morris forward had seen her teammate get crushed into the boards on the other side of the ice and no arm raise by the referee. Then, as Gebhard came in on the forecheck immediately after, she was whistled for tripping. Gebhard shook her head and took a seat on the bench inside the box. It was indicative of an evening in which Syracuse (13-21-3, 10-8-2 College Hockey America) frustrated the Colonials’ (16-14-6, 13-4-3) star forward through the first two periods with constant stick checking and holds, all within the confines of the rules. Syracuse’s physical defense led to a 6-2 blowout victory against the No. 1-seed in the CHA tournament final.“She’s a lot of their offense, so knowing that when she’s out there, that’s very key for us,” defender Jessica DiGirolamo said. “Then we made sure that we had a stick on her at all times so that she didn’t have the ability to make any plays.” Syracuse had never won a CHA title. It had lost in six previous finals appearances, including a 2-0 loss to RMU in the 2017 final. That made it want a win on Friday even more, senior captain Allie Munroe said. And it showed. Nearly every time Gebhard, who led the CHA with 50 regular season points, skated near the boards or tried to beat defenders along the wall, Syracuse players forced her onto the glass and kept her there until the puck was safely away. None of the other Colonials found much space in the offensive zone either. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn numerous occasions, a SU player was there to dive and knock the puck away or deflect it out of play. Shots came at a premium and goal-scoring chances even more so. The Orange finished with 19 blocks to RMU’s four, and while goalie Ady Cohen made some key stops, Robert Morris was held to 28 shots on goal on 54 total shot attempts. “In these tournaments, it comes down to who wants it more,” Munroe said. “And we waited, this program’s waited 11 years for this, and it meant so much to us that we got it done today, finally.”Robert Morris scored a goal with under a minute to play in the first period, which SU head coach Paul Flanagan called a “tough bounce.” RMU’s Caitlyn Sadowy fired the shot from the faceoff circle, and it snuck through between Cohen’s blocker and body before hitting the post and going in. That was the last goal the Orange allowed before the third period, though, as they took control of the game in the middle frame. Initially, Flanagan tried to matchup lines so that when Gebhard was on the ice, SU’s underclassmen line of Emma Polaski, Lauren Bellefontaine and Abby Moloughney was too. It was difficult because RMU had the last change, but for the entire first period, Gebhard was never on the ice at even strength without SU’s young line there guarding her. As the Orange pulled away, Flanagan also went away from his rigid matchups. Even on penalty kills, he rolled through his lines as he would against any other player, and that allowed Gebhard to get a consolation score in the third period. But by that point, SU was too far ahead.“You get up, four or five goals, and it’s OK, don’t worry about the matchups,” Flanagan said. “Shift into a 1-2-2, little more prevent, just get it deep. You saw us flipping it out of the zone a lot, just getting the pressure off.”On Friday, the Colonials drubbed the Orange, 5-0, to clinch the top spot. But in the first game of the weekend, the scoreline read a one-sided affair. It made the next day’s game less intense, Flanagan said, as Syracuse was already locked into third.It proved the Orange could compete with Robert Morris, and like Flanagan said on Tuesday before boarding the bus to Buffalo, they just needed some bounces to go their way. Cohen was in net for the 5-0 loss, and after starting and winning on Thursday against Mercyhurst, was picked over senior goalie Maddi Welch to play in SU’s most important game of the season.And with a conference title and bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, Cohen and her defenders made sure this team really was different to those in the past. There was a different “edge” to them, Flanagan said in the lead up to the tournament, and in winning three games in three days, the Orange showed it.“We got here for a reason,” Munroe said. “We worked hard, all season long, and it paid off, but everything we went through as a team, and here we are as champions.” Commentscenter_img Published on March 8, 2019 at 9:48 pm Contact Arabdho: [email protected] | @aromajumder last_img