By Luke Burgess
Syracuse, N.Y. - The Orange stand at 1-1-0 after their opening weekend against the Golden Flashes (1-1-0), a series that saw a lot of 4-on-4 hockey, and some stellar performances from some new faces.
The Tennity Ice Pavilion was full of anticipation on Friday night, as The Orange took the ice led by their new captain Mackenzie Murphy. It was an unfortunate start for Syracuse, David Rankin put one behind Cuse goalie Nikolaos Manousos just 1:04 into the first frame, and the Golden Flashes never looked back. They put one more behind Manousos before the horn blew to signal the end of the first, and despite two goals from Cuse center Tim Cook, The Orange fell 6-2 in their opener.
Freshman Jack Wren, who tallied an assist on Cook’s second goal, detailed how he thought the team could move forward from the tough loss.
“I was doing my best out there, everything I could to compete and get the boys going, and just play my game…didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. I feel like there’s a couple of things I could have done better, I try to set a standard out there for everybody, but at the end of the day I gotta be better too.”
Wren’s objective view of how the game played out was impressive, the 6 '1 Freshman was already looking ahead to the next one. During both games this weekend he was consistently creating time and space with his skating ability, and distributing the puck well.
“My biggest thing is that I like to try and be a big body out there, just hit guys and get the puck off them, if my teammates just get open in front, I’ll get those pucks out to them, and hopefully we can bang a few more home,” said the freshman.
Wren wasn’t the only Freshman to shine on opening weekend. Backup goalie AJ Finta was easily the first star of the matinee game as he put in a stellar performance in goal en route to a 5-2 win for the Orange. Finta got his goal support from four different faces, including two from defenseman Connor Chesner, the second a well-placed snapshot in the lower left corner that the Aspen, Colorado native worked into the zone all by himself. But it wouldn’t have been such a favorable result for Syracuse if it wasn’t for Finta.
The Freshman had some time to process his upcoming debut, as he found out he’d be between the pipes for Saturday's matchup during Friday morning practice.
“After watching the game last night the nerves were definitely there, I saw them pop six, but I’ve been waiting for this moment so I just locked in in warmups and got it going.” Finta was certainly locked in as he stopped all nine shots that came his way in a pivotal 3rd period that 'Cuse entered with only a one-goal lead. “I wasn’t really happy with that second goal I gave up, so all I was thinking was keep it at two. The team has been playing well, they kept a lot of the shots to the outside, and I knew they were going to do it in the third, and I just had to make the saves I had to make.”
Both teams had trouble staying out of the penalty box as the game progressed, Syracuse took three penalties in the 2nd period, but the PK came in clutch when it was needed, going 100% on the afternoon, and the weekend as a whole. The energy in the locker room following the Saturday win was infectious, following a season that was, at times, draining and difficult, it was big for the team to get a win on opening weekend and go into the second series 1-1.
The Stony Brook Seawolves roll into town next weekend, following two dominant wins on opening weekend against the Orange last year. Syracuse will look for revenge, and maybe to turn a few heads.
“You know we got a really good group,” Finta said, “that Kent State team, anyone who watched the game last night knows they’re a really good team, and we came out in the third and showed that we’re a good team too…Stony brook next weekend, I think we’re gonna surprise some people.”
That energy seemed to radiate throughout the dressing room, with constant yelling and whooping as the team headed out the doors in jubilant spirits, ready for the challenge ahead. The Orange can be found next weekend on the SU Hockey Network Youtube channel, as well as inside the Tennity Ice Pavilion at 7 on Friday.
By e-mail: email@example.com