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IHOC : Orange looks to end slump by avoiding complacency

first_img Comments These are the dog days of February for Syracuse. And SU head coach Paul Flanagan does not particularly enjoy this time of year. Flanagan likes coaching in big games, under pressure.In one particular bout of tension, he recalls a weekend set in which his St. Lawrence team faced a win-or-go-home scenario on the road against Dartmouth. Heading into the first game, Flanagan’s Saints trailed the Big Green by one point in the conference standings.‘You’re playing a great team to win a league championship, and each night there’s 15,000, 16,000 people there,’ Flanagan said. ‘So we go in there and beat ‘em 3-2 Friday night. Huge game, big crowd, just a battle.’Flanagan’s Saints moved ahead by a point after the first contest. But St. Lawrence dropped the second game, also by a 3-2 margin, and was eliminated.‘I didn’t have to say anything,’ Flanagan said. ‘You talk about not having to motivate. It’s there, it’s right in front of you. You got the crowd, you got a league championship. We stood there and watched them award the league championship trophy, and it was awesome.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Syracuse finishes up its final four games of the regular season over the next two weeks, it will not be playing in front of 1,500. It won’t be battling for a conference championship, and it probably won’t be dealing with much overt mental pressure. Following a sweep at the hands of top-seeded Mercyhurst this past weekend, SU’s second series loss to them this season, its biggest obstacle to this season’s finish will be complacency.For a team that has already faced five schools currently ranked in the Top 15, Syracuse has struggled to stay motivated against ones they expect to beat.‘It’s definitely easier to play really hard against a faster, hardworking team because you have to play up to that level,’ sophomore defender Jacquie Greco said. ‘We have the potential to play better, but it’s harder if they’re skating slower than you. I think we realize we need to win these next four games, or we won’t be in good shape.’Syracuse has won only three of its past 13 games, dating back to Dec. 10. Against Mercyhurst last weekend, SU was outscored 6-1 in the second and third periods.By fixing lethargy or complacency, Syracuse needs to rediscover its motivation against both the stronger and weaker teams on the schedule. SU plays Robert Morris, a team it sits above in the College Hockey America standings, this weekend.‘That’s where we have made our mistakes this season,’ SU forward Lisa Mullan said. ‘If we had played the way we do against better teams, we would crush them. Almost double digits. But it’s kind of frustrating to see that we do let up, and we do play down.’In Flanagan’s nine seasons at St. Lawrence, he qualified for the Frozen Four five times and won fewer than 20 games in a season only once. With a conference record of 5-4-1, SU sits comfortably ahead of fourth place Robert Morris at 2-8-3.As a result, there is not too much riding on this year’s playoff stretch. The Orange would need an epic collapse to avoid qualifying for the College Hockey America tournament.When reflecting on that late-season weekend in Dartmouth, Flanagan recalled his team’s drive for a strong finish. But creating that drive with this year’s Syracuse team is a different beast.‘And now for us, we almost have to be creative to keep them motivated,’ Flanagan said. ‘I have to read the room and try and push the right buttons. The appropriate buttons. You want to avoid going through the motions.’zoirvin@syr.edu Published on February 16, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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