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Gilligan continues to protect net as regular season ends after seizing starting role for Orange

first_img Published on February 20, 2015 at 5:04 pm Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus Jenn Gilligan started to worry about her body about halfway through this season.Feeling sore and fatigued, the Syracuse goalie had played in all but one of SU’s games and was second in the country in minutes played. But when the team took its month-long break from games in December and two-week long break from practice, Gilligan took the time to rejuvenate.“I tried to stay off the ice as much as I could,” Gilligan said.Since the break, Gilligan has started every game and been on the ice 99.2 percent of the time — her only absences because of an empty net or delayed penalty. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith just two games left in the regular season, Gilligan’s 1,845 minutes and 48 seconds played rank second in the country. In a year when the Orange has more ties than any year in program history and has struggled to score — failing to tally more than two goals in 22 of 32 games this season — goalie play has been crucial.In three of each of the last four games, Gilligan conceded just one goal. She will look to continue her success when the Orange (9-13-10, 7-5-6 College Hockey America) hosts Rochester Institute of Technology (10-17–5, 4-11-3) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Tennity Ice Pavilion and travels to Rochester for its final regular-season game on Saturday at 3 p.m.“She’s been great for our team,” goalie Amanda Cariddi said.Over the past four seasons, Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan had run a two-goalie rotation with Kallie Billadeau and Jenesica Drinkwater. One goalie started around 20 games and the other recorded starts a handful fewer each year.But at the beginning of this season, Flanagan had three options in net: Gilligan, a transfer from New Hampshire who hadn’t played a game in 18 months, Cariddi, who joined the team last year after playing on SU’s women’s club ice hockey team and Abbey Miller, a freshman.Gilligan’s athleticism and experience set her apart from the other two and she got the start right away.Her only absence of the season came when a concussion knocked her out of three straight practices in October and the game that Saturday. But by Sunday, Gilligan was back in net.“I’m surprised my body has held up as well as it has, playing the amount of minutes that I have,” Gilligan said. “Hopefully it can hold itself together for a few more weeks.”In the Orange’s nine wins this season, Gilligan has averaged one goal allowed per game and a 95.9 save percentage. Syracuse has gone to overtime 12 times and Gilligan has surrendered a goal only twice during the extra time. On Feb. 13, against Lindenwood, Gilligan stopped multiple odd-man rush opportunities before the chances eventually overwhelmed her, though she held on for the tie. On Feb. 14, the goalie made a pad save with her right leg on a penalty shot late in the third period to preserve SU’s win over Lindenwood.“There’s a lot of big saves she’s made that sometimes go unnoticed,” Flanagan said. “She’s had to come up huge for us.”The Orange is currently tied with Penn State for second place in the CHA. With two wins and at least one tie or loss from Penn State this weekend, SU would clinch a No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the conference tournament. At worst, the Orange will host a best-of-three series as the No. 3 seed in the first round next weekend.“If we just had some run-of-the-mill goaltender, Flanagan said, “… we would probably be staring at going on the road next week, to be honest with you, so that’s the difference.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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