Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.28.2011 at 8.10 p.m. by Gary Lambrecht

Orange Must Contend With A Slow Pace Again

No. 4 Syracuse has seen its share of slowdown games this spring, and the Orange expects more of the same when top-ranked, unbeaten Notre Dame comes to the Carrier Dome on Saturday night.

Remember, Syracuse, that paragon of the run-and-gun philosophy, has leaned on its defense for two seasons, and the Orange recorded back-to-back, 5-4 victories in March over Johns Hopkins and Villanova.

The Irish (10-0) are masters at controlling the tempo and playing to their elite defense, which is led by a superb, 6-feet-6 cover man in senior defenseman Kevin Ridgway. Notre Dame shuts off the middle of the field and takes away shots from the crease area better than anyone. The Irish make a very good goalie in sophomore John Kemp look super-human at times.

"[The Irish] pressure, but they don't give up the inside. They don't play a real zone, but they know how to pack it in out of their man [defense]," Syracuse junior attackman Tommy Palasek said. "Their team D is just real solid. They don't show you many gaps."

Syracuse (12-1) knows it must exercise offensive patience from the first minute to minute no. 60, and not force shots, so as to create Notre Dame transition. But the Orange have gone through a partial identity change while fashioning a great defense of their own. Syracuse doesn't mind holding the ball for long stretches.

"Many teams have played a slow tempo against us, and we've seen a lot of zone defenses," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "We've had to play differently. We've come up with different ways to score goals -- off our rides and faceoffs. We've still been able to get some goals that haven't come out of our set offense. Hopefully, we can get a goal out of the Carrier Dome."