As tallest team in the conference, Syracuse finds problems with height

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ At 6-foot-1, Lindsay Eastwood is the tallest player in the College Hockey America conference. That’s before the extra two inches her skates give her. Every game, Eastwood is the tallest player on the ice, but it’s not just the redshirt senior that has the height advantage. It’s an advantage shared by the entire Orange team.Syracuse (3-12-1, 2-1-1 College Hockey America) has an average height of 5-foot-8, highest in the CHA. Eastwood isn’t the only 6-foot skater for Syracuse, as freshman Anna Leschyshyn is 6 feet tall as well. As the tallest team in the conference, SU has realized that as much of an edge height can be, it can also pose problems. “I’ve got a long reach so that definitely helps me,” Eastwood said. “Players are coming one-on-one on me, so it’s definitely an advantage. I think I just need to be able to play to that advantage or else it can become a weakness.”In hockey, size has always mattered. Bigger players win board battles and create traffic in front of the net. All three of SU’s leaders in blocked shots, including Eastwood, stand above 5-foot-9. Only Penn State has as many players over 5-foot-9 as SU (nine), but PSU doesn’t have a single skater above 6 feet. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEva Suppa | Digital Design EditorMost opponents don’t have the size to matchup with Eastwood and the Orange, which can create a unique advantage for Syracuse. RIT, for example, doesn’t have a player over 5-foot-9, and has one conference win on the season. “We try to teach our kids to be active with their stick and tracking the puck and trying to be disruptive,” said head coach Paul Flanagan. “So from that perspective I think having reach and length can really help.”Defender Kristen Siermachesky (5-foot-11) is also one of the tallest players on the team. She cited height as an “intimidation factor,” but only if it is used in the right way — stick-checking opponents, winning pucks along the boards and tipping pucks on net.  But that long reach can also get players into trouble, Siermachesky said. Sometimes, it can be difficult for taller players to defend against shorter, quicker opponents. Shorter players can move their feet faster, and that often results in taller players playing catch-up. When taller players rely too much on their long reaches, it can result in stick penalties like hooking or tripping. Those penalties have been a problem for the Orange all season. It contributed to the worst start in program history this year, as SU lost multiple games after bad penalties late. In 2019, Syracuse is second in the nation with 191 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-10 Kelli Rowswell leads the Orange with 11 penalties, seventh-most in the nation.Eva Suppa | Digital Design Editor“It’s tougher sometimes for our bigger kids that have to be careful,” said Flanagan. “You’ve got to manage yourself pretty well, your hands, your elbows just so you’re not getting penalties, when you tower over someone you just have to be careful.”There are a few SU players who don’t have a height advantage and are forced to have different styles of play. Amanda Bäckebo, the shortest player on the team, said she knows that she won’t win board battles with bigger players, so she tries to “sneak out” and use her speed to get to the puck first.“So, if I go into, like, close competitions there, I have no chance,” Bäckebo told The Daily Orange last year. “I (had) to have a play style that didn’t involve too much physics.”This season, while penalties have piled up and the offense has struggled to produce goals, Syracuse’s unique perceived advantage has actually contributed to their most glaring weaknesses. Comments Published on December 4, 2019 at 10:30 pm Contact Gaurav: [email protected]last_img

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