first_img Published on October 11, 2012 at 1:07 am Contact Ryan: [email protected] The Syracuse women’s ice hockey team won just a single conference game last season. But the Orange’s opponent this weekend has yet to ever play a conference game.This week will be the first home game for women’s ice hockey in the history of the Penn State program. For SU, it presents an opportunity to correct a College Hockey America record that cannot be called anything but a disappointment.“This is huge,” sophomore center Allie LaCombe said. “This is like the first opportunity to show our division that we’re not just going to be another fourth-ranked team. We can show them that we’re a lot better this year, and we’re going to lead the CHA and hopefully come out on top.”While these games, as their first division games of the season, are important for Syracuse, this will be a big deal on Penn State’s campus as well. The Nittany Lions already have a sellout crowd for their first home game in Penn State history, and they also have a ceremonial puck drop planned. The first game is Saturday at 4 p.m., with the conclusion of the weekend road trip starting Sunday at 2 p.m.Head coach Paul Flanagan believes the pregame festivities may actually play in Syracuse’s favor.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It’s their very first women’s game on campus,” Flanagan said. “They talked to me already about a ceremonial puck drop and some of the other distractions really for their team.”Most of Penn State’s roster is made of young players and transfer students. To compensate for the relative inexperience, Penn State is expected to focus on running a pack-it-in defense. This involves the Nittany Lions clustering in front of the net more, a technique usually implemented by less experienced teams.Penn State’s game plan is the equivalent of a prevent defense in football.Flanagan expects Penn State to run that system and has his team preparing for it.“They play kind of a defensive system where they pack it in. It’s kind of a ploy that a team that is at a disadvantage a little bit in terms of having a young team,” Flanagan said. “We have to make sure we’re not pumping shots into their bodies and sticks aren’t in shooting lanes. We’ve got to make sure we get shots through and outnumber them or outmuscle them down low for rebounds.”The Orange heads into the game with its third-leading scorer from last season injured, center Shiann Darkangelo. While there is a possibility that she will be able to go this weekend, she will wear a cast, limiting what she can do on the ice.Senior captain Holly Carrie-Mattimoe said her team will need to step up on the offensive end this week without Darkangelo at full ability.Syracuse believes this team is much improved over last year’s squad, but the Orange has yet to pick up a win to show for it.With a new opponent this weekend, LaCombe said it will be huge to be mentally focused for these two games.“Honestly our team is way ahead of where we were last year,” LaCombe said. “We didn’t even end off this good. We are starting at a very good position, but now it’s just getting the mental part, getting ready to play with a long bus ride, and against a new team. Get the jitters out and just play.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more