By Zoe Jurmann
Syracuse, N.Y.– This weekend, the Syracuse Orange (0-0-0) are set to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (0-0-0) for the home and season opener at Tennity Ice Pavilion.
Newly named team captain Mackenzie Murphy said that while the team has been working hard in practice, they're looking to avenge last year's opening night loss to ESCHL rival, Stony Brook.
“To play a rivalry game on opening night against a Top-10 team in the country is no easy task. Especially considering all the young guys we had on the roster last year. I think the Orange & White game helped get the opening night jitters out,” said Murphy. “Kent State is a strong gritty team and we look forward to welcoming them to our barn.”
For senior alternate captain Vincent “Vinny” Barone, this weekend is big in more ways than one. With his birthday being on the same day as the season opener, and all of his family coming up from Staten Island to support him, Barone has been feeling the game day jitters already.
“For the past 2 nights I’ve gotten into bed thinking about this upcoming weekend and have lost countless hours of sleep doing so. Typically, players start to feel the emotions leading up to a game a day before or even the day of, however, a week before I am already feeling these emotions.”
He is hoping his vocal nature and high energy are relayed to other members of the team.
“I've been making my voice heard on and off the ice in an attempt to pump the boys up for this weekend. Throughout this week of practice the energy has been really high and it feels like the boys are all on that same wavelength. I hope my efforts to spark some energy in my teammates throughout practice can translate to our games this weekend and be reflected on the scoreboard.”
Last season, the Orange struggled with consistency and sloppy mistakes due to the fast-paced nature of the game. Coach Timmons, Coach Alhart and newly hired skills coach Jon Lauer have been working with the team on fixing the little mistakes and making sure to play a whole 60 minutes every night.
Timmons believes the Orange “have put more of an emphasis on conditioning and competition these first couple of weeks to get our legs under us for this first weekend. It’s been more inclined for us to add as much game-type situations into practice while being able to have our guys buy into our systems. This group has been able to translate those situations well so far and this week will be more of the final touches to see how it translates into a game.”
The team is heading into this season with a positive mindset and a team-first attitude. Murphy believes that practices have been reflective of the kind of play and positivity that the team will rely on as the season progresses.
“Practices have been great, I think the pace of practice is far better than it was at this point last season. There’s more urgency and competition,” explained Murphy. “Guys are chomping at the bit to play. We’ve spent a lot of time working on our systems and making sure our competition level is up. Guys are realizing that in order to be at our best we have to make sure we’re pushing each other.”
Barone, a vocal and spirited presence for the team both on and off the ice, is ready to build off of the successes of last season and practices so far this year.
“Out of this season, I am most looking forward to developing our systems and improving our gameplay from last year. Over the summer every single person on our roster has put in a lot of time and effort into getting better and earning a spot in the lineup. I believe this team has a lot of potential to perform well this year and compete with a lot of teams that we weren’t able to last year. The energy these past few weeks have been really high and the boys are excited to play this weekend. We have a lot of skill this year and we cannot wait to display it this weekend versus Kent State. Syracuse hockey is back.”
The Orange have all of the practice and strength they need heading into this season. All that is left is to prove it on the ice, according to Coach Timmons.
“Buy In. We showed it towards the end of last semester that if we are all on the same page and know where we need to be, the game becomes easier to play. We put up some hard battles against good teams with not as much depth as we do this year with those additions we made. If we buy-in early, it’s going to be a stronger start for our group. The message for our guys is simple: Let's get to work.”
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