Before the Cuse conspirists start dumping the hate on them…blame it on the AQ. It isn’t their fault they made it into the tournament. The team started to gel late in the season…almost too late.
This is a game many people wanted to see including the NCAA. This is a rematch of a battle played earlier in the season where Duke walked away with a win.
Duke owned the time of possession and out shot Syracuse 42 shots to 29. Duke controlled by winning the ground ball battle scooping up 25 compared to Syracuse’s 20. Surprisingly the typical tandem of Constabile (7 of 16) and Fowler (4 of 9) had no answers for Ricky Buhr, as Duke only won only 44% of the face-offs. Ricky Buhr who has had iffy results all year, actually won 56% of the faceoffs for Syracuse. It was a back and forth game with multiple lead changes. Syracuse scoring was led by Palasek with 4 Goals and 1 assist, and Desko with 2G/2A. Duke was led by Rotanz with 4G/0A, and Wolf with 2G/3A. Both teams also had big contributions from guys that aren’t always listed in the boxscores who stepped up for a big game. Luke Commetti for Syracuse (11 goals all season), and David Lawson for Duke (12 goals all season) each netted 2 goals apiece.
There were several key factors in that game.
Cuse stayed in the game partly to their tenacity. They caused 12 of Duke’s 19 turn overs, and disrupted Dukes clear attempts allowing them to convert just 11 of 15 (73%). Syracuse cleared 7 of 8 attempts (88%).
Syracuse had mental mistakes. Lamolinara came out of the cage for a loose ball, and got caught letting Duke’s Walsh score an empty net goal. Syracuse had 8 unforced turnovers. In the fourth quarter with at least two separate one-on-one opportunities their shooters did not bury the ball in the back of the net. Syracuse had been plagued with poor shot selection all season.
Special teams. Neither looked that good as Duke converted 2 of 5 EMO chances, and Syracuse converted 1 of 5.
And probably the most important factor was goalie play by Duke.
Dan Wigrizer, as I called out in the Preseason preview, is streaky. He continues to be streaky.
In the first meeting with Syracuse he had only 1 save in the first half. He woke up in the second half making 7 more saves including a couple one-on-ones to finish with 8 saves and 10 goals against. Not great, but good enough for the W.
In their last game against Denver Wigi posted 4 saves with 12 goals against. The game before that against UNC he posted 5 saves with 9 goals against. Earlier in the year against Loyola he posted 1 save with 7 goals against. So in these 4 games he has 18 saves with 38 goals against (Save Percentage of 32% and over 14 GAA). However when he does well, he does very well posting 16 saves and 6 goals against versus Notre Dame (Save 73%), and overall he has acceptable numbers 8.7GAA, save percentage 52%.
Tale of the tape:
Duke is 13-4. Losses to Notre Dame, Maryland, Loyola, and Denver. Quality wins over Syracuse, Maryland, UVA, UNC (twice).
Duke Offense is averaging 11.2 goals per game off of 38.2 shots per game.
Their leading scorers are; Jordan Wolf 29Goals/28Assists, Chris Walsh 27G/13A, Josh Dionne 32G/5A, Rob Rotanz 30G/7A, everyone else less than 23 points.
Duke’s Defense is letting in 9.1 goals per game…See Dan Wigrizer section above.
Duke clears 84.8% of its attempts compared to opponents 87%
Duke’s EMO converts just 22.2% of its chances, while opponents convert 46%.
Duke wins 55% of their Face Offs
Syracuse is 9-7. Losses to UVA, Hopkins, Villanova, Duke, Cornell, Georgetown, and Notre Dame. Quality wins over Princeton and Villanova.
Syracuse Offense is averaging 10.4 goals per game off of 36.3 shots per game.
Their leading scorers are; Tommy Palasek 23G/28A, Derek Maltz 28G/8A, Tim Desko 21G/10A, JoJo Marasco 12G/19A, Bobby Eilers 21G/8A.
Syracuse Defense is letting in 9.1 goals per game. Bobby Wardwell took over in cage and has posted 73 saves with 63 goals against for an 8.4 GAA, and save percentage of 54%.
Syracuse clears 88% of its attempts compared to opponents 80.5%
Syracuse’s EMO converts 38.6% of its chances, while opponents convert 42.9%.
Syracuse wins 47.5% of their Face Offs
Keys to the game:
1) Will Syracuse’s momentum continue? Throughout the season, Syracuse has looked poor on a number of fronts. They started off the season with two goalies splitting time and limited results (Dom Lamolinara 43Saves, 48Goals Against, 9.4GAA, SavePercentage 47% and Matt Lerman 73Saves, 63Goals Against, 10.02 GAA, Save Percentage 54%) before switching to Bobby Wardwell. Bobby has grown and had to mature quick and under fire. Syracuse’s FO unit has been horrible the entire season, up until the Big East tournament. Ricky Buhr finally has found his groove. It will need to continue against a top FO unit of Duke. Granted he did well earlier in the year when he was struggling, so it is possible he could continue. Lastly will be shot selection. Probably the area Syracuse fans were least concerned with was offense. SU has still managed to score 10.4 goals per game, but there have been MANY missed opportunities. Again, up until the Big East games, it seemed like half the shots taken were stick side high…and on one-on-ones, SU was being stopped more than they should have been.
2) The play of Dan Wigrizer. This coincides with SU’s shooting. The past two games has seen Wigi slump (9saves vs 21 Goals against). Will Rock or Turri take over in cage? Will Wigi get his head clear? Will Syracuse shooters take bad shots, and build up Wigi’s confidence?
3) Special teams. With Duke’s athleticism, one would think they would excel at clears, yet they struggle. Syracuse is one of the toughest riding teams out there. How many opportunities can Syracuse create on a Duke clear, and how many unsettled chances can they convert. Also on special teams, Duke struggles on EMO, and lets opponents score on 46% of their chances. Syracuse’e EMO played horrible during the last meeting. If they want to win, they will need to take advantage of a Duke team that is man-down 4 minutes per game.
I think Syracuse has come a long way in just the Big East tournament in everything from goalie play to just plain hustle. Combine this with the slump Wigi is playing in…I am saying Syracuse upsets Duke by 2.
Just for fun, I’ll also predict at least 1 unsettled goal scored off a Syracuse ride/Duke blown clear turnover.