Beat writers predict how far Syracuse will go in CHA playoff

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 4, 2020 at 11:01 pm Syracuse (13-19-2, 11-7-2 College Hockey America) finished the 2019-20 regular season third in the conference, four points behind second and without a first-round bye. It’s the exact situation the Orange were in last season before they rattled off three-straight victories and won the program’s first ever CHA title and bid to the NCAA tournament. Starting Thursday, SU will begin its quest to repeat as champions against 6th-seeded Lindenwood.Below, our ice hockey beat writers predict how Syracuse will fare in Buffalo this weekend.Mitchell BannonNo Small TaskFinals lossBarring upsets, three teams stand between SU and back-to-back CHA championships: Lindenwood, Robert Morris and Mercyhurst. The Orange swept the season series against the Lions, split the four games against the Colonials and won only one against the Lakers. They have beaten every team they could face on their path back to the NCAA tournament, but they have also lost to all but one.All season, Syracuse has struggled on the power play, in shooting efficiency and closing out games, but conference play success came on the back of strong goaltending. And with Ady Cohen missing senior night with a “bad illness,” according to coach Paul Flanagan, SU’s repeat hopes likely fall on Allison Small. Small started the season with an .877 save percentage in non-conference play, but her rate rose to .921 by the end of the season — losing only four of her last 12 starts. If Small can carry her recent success into the final week of the season, the Orange have a chance at repeating, but in a single-elimination format there is no room for error.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWill HentschelBuffalo Soldiering OnSemifinal lossSyracuse had its worst start in program history at the beginning of this season but found its stride once their conference season began. Lindenwood is the only conference team the Orange have not lost to, and I don’t see their Thursday match faring any differently. However, after Lindenwood, it’s hard to imagine Syracuse fending off two more well-rounded teams in consecutive games to clinch the title. Syracuse’s lack of special teams production will finally catch up to it, and any success it does have will result from defense and goaltending.Gaurav ShettyOne and DoneSemifinal lossSyracuse beat Lindenwood by a combined score of 31-3. Even though the Lions had to play a skater in net for two of those games that should tell you everything you need to know about Lindenwood. Barring a serious turn of events Syracuse should top Lindenwood without a hitch. The challenge arrives when the Orange would play Robert Morris in the semifinals. The Colonials have one of the best offenses in the country and an elite power play. If the Colonials come out of the gate firing, the Orange may have the firepower but not the accuracy to go blow for blow. There’s no going back-to-back for this group. Commentslast_img

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