IHOC : Billadeau displays growth, maturity entering sophomore year

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Kallie Billadeau glanced up at the scoreboard as the final buzzer ended the game between Syracuse and then-No. 1 Cornell. In her freshman season, the Orange goaltender had just broken the SU single-game saves record with 57 in a losing effort.But despite receiving congratulations after the game, Billadeau was still discontent with the loss. It was a moment that marked her emergence as an important piece of this Syracuse program.‘She didn’t care about the saves. She didn’t want to make anything of it,’ SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. ‘And really, that’s important because it could have been easy for Kallie to think that the game was all about her. But that night she took some ownership and quietly became a real good leader.’Now a sophomore, Billadeau enters this season eager to continue right where she left off. Her improved level of play has become a staple of the Syracuse defense, constantly communicating and working together with fellow teammates. Although she lost her first start of the season to No. 4 Minnesota, she picked up 46 saves. The leadership she displays on the ice provides reassurance for Flanagan and her teammates as Syracuse (1-1) looks to improve upon a disappointing 14-16-6 record last season.Billadeau returned to Syracuse as a better player after working hard during the offseason. The goaltender spent much of the summer conditioning with SU forward Cara Johnson in their home state of Minnesota.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe pair worked out at Hopkins High School, where they also played together, every morning and volunteered with the Hopkins girls hockey program three days a week.‘I handled the forwards and Kallie handled the goalies, so she had about six goalies she was running special drills for,’ Johnson said. ‘It looked like they were throwing tennis balls and other drills like that.’Weightlifting also became a very important part of Billadeau’s workout regimen during the offseason. She said that the increased intensity has not only allowed her to get stronger, but also to gain endurance, which is crucial for a player who started 21 games last year in the net.Billadeau seemed to separate herself as the starting goalie near the end of last year, starting seven of the Orange’s final eight games.‘She’s a more fit athlete,’ Flanagan said. ‘Her overall conditioning is better, so when a team has us pinned in our zone, she is a lot better at recovering. You need that leg strength.’Nowhere has Billadeau’s offseason dedication been more apparent than in last weekend’s game against Minnesota. The Gophers offense mercilessly fired away shot after shot, eventually tallying a 50-10 shot advantage against SU.But Billadeau remained composed and recorded an impressive 46 saves despite taking the loss.‘Those girls on the Gophers are very fast, plus they know the system well and have been playing with each other for a while,’ Billadeau said. ‘But you can’t get frustrated. You need to focus on the bigger picture, keep going until the final buzzer.’Although Minnesota dominated Syracuse in essentially every sense of the word, the Orange players never gave up, inspired by the positive attitude of players like Billadeau. Her emergence as a leader has instilled a stronger sense of unity amongst the team.‘They continually pull for one another,’ Flanagan said. ‘Even when it wasn’t going well, particularly after the first period on Saturday night, I looked around and they were all supporting one another. There wasn’t any whining or any of that, it was all positive.’With a year of experience under her belt, Billadeau has become noticeably more comfortable in Syracuse’s system. She said the mental ability of knowing what to expect takes some weight off her shoulders and has encouraged her to step up as a leader on the team.She has also recently become more vocal around her teammates. She is an engaging presence during team meetings, actively speaking out when the sports psychologist visits the team twice a week.‘She doesn’t talk a whole lot, but when she does talk, people listen,’ Syracuse defender Taylor Metcalfe said.Billadeau’s presence on the ice will have a huge effect on her teammates, even when fellow sophomore goaltender Jenesica Drinkwater, who played in 25 games last season and was in net for SU’s win over St. Cloud State this weekend, is on the ice.And Flanagan said he is confident with Billadeau anchoring the Orange defense this season.‘You’ll find that by the time she is a senior she will hopefully have all the angles, not only physically, but also mentally she will be much smarter,’ Flanagan [email protected]center_img Published on October 4, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img

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