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Published on February 26, 2013 at 1:41 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ When the puck drops in the first of two midweek Syracuse-Lindenwood games Tuesday night, the Orange will be 10 days away from its most important game of the season: the do-or-die College Hockey America semifinal.But SU is also 10 days removed from a gut-wrenching home loss that made No. 9 Mercyhurst conference champs.Caught between two defining moments of the near record-setting season, the Orange (18-13-1, 12-5-1 CHA) must tinker ahead of and during the regular season-ending series with the Lions (6-23-3, 6-9-3 CHA). A win would be head coach Paul Flanagan’s 300th.SU learned and relearned valuable lessons in its pair of narrow losses to Mercyhurst. Firstly, the Orange can play with the one of the nation’s best. And to do so, sometimes SU has to simply play more like them.“We have to come prepared for 60 minutes next time,” forward Holly Carrie-Mattimoe said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textShe noted that she and her teammates might have welcomed Mercyhurst with too much confidence, dragging the squad through an emotional rollercoaster – beginning with hubris, evolving into disappointment and ultimately ending with a crucial realization.“We learned that we can compete with Mercyhurst,” Carrie-Mattimoe said, “and I think we’ll take that to the playoffs and we’ll come prepared and ready to compete next time.”Twice in 24 hours, SU entered the third period with every chance at a victory. In the Feb. 15 game, SU led 3-2 with 11:35 to play, and was poised to rip the CHA crown away from the Lakers.But the Orange couldn’t match Mercyhurst’s nonstop net-crashing style – not for long enough, at least – and coughed up three goals in 8:25 to fall 5-3.SU allowed another three goals in the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s game.“It was a little bit of a mess,” goalkeeper Kallie Billadeau said.SU skated on to the third period just a goal down after a two-goal second period, but the Orange couldn’t finish the job. The defeats signaled that the Orange has to remain committed to whichever playing style will win the game.Against the Lakers, that meant mirroring their direct, crease-bombarding offense. It’s not that SU is looking to become a cookie-cutter copy of its opponents, but it needs wins. Hosting MU meant moving the attack away from the point, where too many shots would be blocked, and instead cutting to the net and cleaning up goals.“I think we’ll just do whatever we need to score,” Carrie-Mattimoe said. “Our focus was just getting it on net and crashing, and it worked a couple times.”But SU’s adjustments didn’t work well enough, or long enough, to win. So, the Orange looks to Lindenwood re-energized by the closeness of its losses against one of the nation’s best, and aided by a long layoff. SU was scheduled to play Lindenwood last Friday and Saturday before a winter storm in the Midwest interfered with the Lions’ travel plans.The Orange has nothing to play for, in terms of conference standings. SU is locked into the No. 2 spot and a bye going into the CHA semifinals. But LU is vying for seeding before the conference tournament, which starts Saturday on the higher seed’s home ice. The Lions sit at No. 5 in the CHA, four points behind Robert Morris.Syracuse just needs to get back to the full-ice form that fueled its eight-game winning streak, because when the Orange trudges off of the ice Wednesday night, it will be 10 days away from a game that, to extend its season, SU cannot lose.“We can’t lose sight of anyone in our league anymore. … So we really have to stay on our game like we have in the past eight games,” Syracuse forward Jacquie Greco said. “So I think we just have to not oversee them and just play our game.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+