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Syracuse’s Lauren Bellefontaine created a mini-breakaway as she crossed the blue line with just under three minutes left in the second period against Clarkson on Oct. 27. The beaten Clarkson defender reached Bellefontaine as she slowed to make a move on Clarkson’s goalie but was only able to hook the freshman down to the ice.
The referee’s arm immediately shot into the air to signal a penalty, and after a short discussion with his fellow officials, he awarded Syracuse a penalty shot. Bellefontaine skated to center ice and again came into the zone with speed at the start of the penalty shot. After a slight hesitation to freeze the goalie, she snapped home a wrist shot, high glove-side, to tie the game at one goal apiece.
After a power-play goal put Clarkson back ahead, Bellefontaine was once again involved in the Syracuse equalizer. With under two minutes to go in the game, senior Allie Munroe received a pass from Bellefontaine in Syracuse’s defensive zone and turned up-ice. As she reached the hash marks in the offensive zone, Munroe flipped a backhand past Kassidy Sauve, giving Bellefontaine her second point of the game.
It was the freshman’s third and latest multi-point game this season, a large part of why she shares the Syracuse scoring lead with nine points through 12 games. Bellefontaine’s tally of four goals and five assists has helped Syracuse (4-7-1, 4-2-0 College Hockey America) to a strong start in conference play and ties her for the fourth most points in the CHA.
“Everyone’s so much bigger, stronger and faster,” Bellefontaine said of college hockey, “but I just have to hold my own and work my hardest.”
In addition to leading Syracuse in scoring, Bellefontaine has proven to be a two-way forward and has blocked 23 shots, second highest on the team, providing her ice time in a variety of different scenarios.
Against Princeton on Oct. 10, head coach Paul Flanagan sent Bellefontaine onto the ice for part of a 5-on-3 penalty kill with under five minutes remaining in a tie game. Her unit held the Tigers scoreless, and Syracuse’s successful penalty kill forced the game into overtime.
“It’s an honor to get out there on a 5-on-3,” she said after that game. “It’s good to know that (Flanagan) has trust in me, and that I can follow through with that.”
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Coming from Kemptville, Ontario, a small town in Canada with a population just under 4,000, Bellefontaine said Syracuse still feels “surreal” even though she’s been here for most of a semester. But she’s also adjusted well off the ice, and she attributed part of that to playing with some former teammates.
Two other freshmen on SU, Shelby Calof and Abby Moloughney, played with Bellefontaine on the Nepean Wildcats, a junior team part of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League in Ontario. Lindsay Eastwood, a redshirt junior, also played for Nepean.
“It was amazing coming here with them [Calof and Moloughney] because I knew people, so we helped each other adjust to the change,” Bellefontaine said.
Syracuse’s veterans and coaching staff have also smoothened her transition. Bellefontaine said they’ve all been extremely supportive, and the staff was one of the main reasons she chose Syracuse.
Her decision has benefitted the Orange locker room so far with her being what Flanagan described as a “real positive, high-energy type of kid.” Bellefontaine’s “unflappable” personality, where nothing seems to bother her, has also helped her near-seamless transition, Flanagan said.
For Bellefontaine, Syracuse has gained a valuable two-way player. For Syracuse, Bellefontaine has found a home.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Bellefontaine said.
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