2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Syracuse Orange

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Paul Flanagan (8th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Nicole Ferrara (C), Nicole Renault (A), Melissa Piacentini (A), Larissa Martyniuk (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 11-15-10 (8-6-6 CHA/2nd place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference runner-ups; earned a bye to the semifinals, advanced to championship game with quarterfinal series win vs. Penn State, defeated by RIT in title game

The Orange had a bit of a rough start to the season, winning their first game against Colgate on Oct. 2 but not picking up their second victory until Oct. 31 against Penn State. They followed that up with a win in a big tilt against Mercyhurst the next series, but won just one of their next four games, all conference match-ups. After a loss to Cornell, they picked up a big few points against RIT with a win over the Tigers in December to close out the first half. Early on in the 2015 calendar year, Syracuse picked up likely its biggest non-conference win of the year, splitting with North Dakota on the road.

A tie against Mercyhurst the following weekend followed suit, but aside from a draw against Penn State, the Orange couldn’t grab a point in its next four games. They did end the regular season on a high note, though, going 4-1-1 in their final six games with a sweep over Robert Morris and wins over Lindenwood and RIT. Their second-place finish in the CHA standings earned them a bye to the semifinals, where they put away Penn State with a 2-0 win. Syracuse fell just short of earning an autobid into the NCAA Tournament, losing the CHA Championship to RIT in double overtime, 2-1.

Despite some inconsistencies and bumps in the road, Syracuse fared pretty well in 2014-15, especially in conference play. The Orange led the league with seven All-CHA selections, including CHA Rookie of the Year Stephanie Grossi and Coach of the Year Paul Flanagan. Forward Melissa Piacentini and defender Nicole Renault were named to the conference’s First Team, while defender Akane Hosoyamada and goaltender Jenn Gilligan found a place on the Second Team. Grossi and fellow freshman forward Alysha Burriss were both selected to the All-CHA Rookie Team.

Meet the Newcomers

D Lindsay Eastwood, Canadian Under-18 Team, Nepean Jr. Wildcats (PWHL)

Eastwood has played for numerous provincial and national team squads, most recently winning a silver medal with Canada’s U18 Team at the 2015 IIHF Women’s U18 World Championships. She was also a member of Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games in February, and won a silver medal with Team Ontario Blue at the 2013 Canadian Women’s U18 National Championships. A two-year captain for the team, Eastwood helped Nepean to a PWHL championship in 2013-14. According to her bio from Cuse.com, Eastwood also ranks among the top-five defensive scoring leaders in PWHL history. CARHA Hockey published a Q&A with Eastwood last season, which you can read here.

D Allie Munroe, New Hampton School

In 63 games with New Hampton (N.H.) this past season, Munroe tallied 15 goals, 38 assists, and 53 points from the blue line. In 2013-14, she was named to the Cushing Academy E.G. Watkins All-Tournament Team, helping New Hampton become Cushing Academy champions, as well as Lakes Region champions the same year. She’s a two-time Lakes Region All-Star and a two-time New Hampshire state all-star team honoree.

F Karleigh Scully, Canadian International Hockey Academy

Scully was named CIH Academy’s Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014, and finished first in scoring in the ODWHA last season. The forward helped the Voyageurs to a first-place finish in 2014 and was a two-year captain with the squad.

G Maddi Welch, Nichols School, Niagara Purple Eagles U19, Buffalo Bisons

Welch won the New York State Championship eight times, and went on to make eight appearances at the USA Nationals. At the Nichols School (N.Y.), she finished with an 88-10-6 overall record, as well as a .934 save percentage and 1,593 saves. With the Niagara Purple Eagles and Buffalo Bisons club teams, she combined for a 127-45-15 record. She helped her team capture four straight North American Prep Hockey Association championships, and was a First Team All-NAPHA honoree and the co-MVP at Nichols. The Buffalo News named her the Prep Talk Girls’ Hockey Player of the Year in 2015.

F Sarah Stuehr, Warner Hockey School

For more information on Syracuse’s 2015-16 signees, check out the December release from Cuse.com.

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: D Kaillie Goodnough, D Akane Hosoyamada, F Allie LaCombe, F Julie Knerr
Key Returners: F Melissa Piacentini, F Stephanie Grossi, F Alysha Burriss, D Nicole Renault, D Larissa Martyniuk, G Jenn Gilligan
Key Additions: D Lindsay Eastwood, G Maddi Welch

Syracuse enjoyed a fair amount of success in-conference last season, jumping up from fourth place to second and earning itself a bye to the conference semifinals. The Orange were just one game-and one double-overtime goal-away from the NCAA Tournament, but they were stymied by the RIT Tigers. Even so, there was plenty of good to take away from the team’s performance last year. They were one of the CHA’s strongest teams when it came to generating offense, leading the league with 31.08 shots on goal per game. They were the only CHA team besides Mercyhurst to have a positive shots on goal differential as well.

Scoring is obviously an important factor for any team, but it was especially big for Syracuse last year because its goaltending ranked at the bottom of the league. Jenn Gilligan transferred in from New Hampshire and provided the Orange with a valid starter right away, but her .901 save percentage ranked last among the CHA’s six starters. She did see more time in net than any other goalie in the conference, but Syracuse will hope to see a little bit more out of her in her senior season. With three years of experience, she’s expected to remain the starter, ahead of sophomore Abbey Miller and freshman Maddi Welch.

Part of the reason why the Orange will likely need to see better goaltending is because they’ll be taking a couple of hits on the blue line. Kaillie Goodnough and Akane Hosoyamada, who both made significant contributions to the defensive corps over their careers, have both graduated. Two-way leader Nicole Renault remains, as does Larissa Martyniuk, who was strong defensively for Syracuse last season. They’re also adding Canadian U18 Team member Lindsay Eastwood, who should be pretty well-equipped to have some sort of impact right away.

Out of the three positions, the Orange’s offense looks to have shaped up the best for the coming year. Besides 11 points each from Allie LaCombe and Julie Knerr, they’re not losing much production. Stephanie Grossi, who led the team in scoring with 30 points, returns, along with classmate Alysha Burriss who was third in scoring with 24 points. If those two continue to improve, they should be even bigger difference-makers this season. Senior Melissa Piacentini was right behind Grossi with 29 points, and led the squad with 18 goals in 2014-15, while former 24-point scorer Nicole Ferrara returns to the line-up for her final year. Jessica Sibley had a promising sophomore season with 17 points, and she rounds out that group of scorers that Syracuse will lean on consistently.

As long as there are no setbacks up front, the Orange’s offense should once again be one of the league’s leaders in terms of productivity. Grossi and Burriss in particular have a lot of upside coming off of big rookie seasons, but they’ll need to repeat those efforts if Syracuse hopes to improve on that showing last season. There aren’t many go-to scorers to turn to outside of their top-six, so we might see some dry spells from the team, especially against tougher defenses. The Orange’s own defense will have some adjustments to make, but the blue line will be in good hands with Renault and Martyniuk setting the standard there. If they can get some stronger goaltending out of Gilligan, they’ll be a good bet to remain in the top half of the conference, with a very good shot at another bye into the semifinals.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 6 vs. Clarkson
Oct. 21 vs. RIT
Oct. 30-31 at Robert Morris
Nov. 14 vs. Cornell
Nov. 27-28 vs. North Dakota
Dec. 10 vs. Boston College
Jan. 15-16 vs. Mercyhurst
Jan. 22-23 at RIT

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