For the first time in 432 days, the Syracuse Men's Ice Hockey Club will take to the ice at Tennnity Ice Pavillion in their home white jerseys. After receiving permission from Club Sports and the University, the Orange are set to host an intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday, May 12th at Tennity. The approval comes after months of hard work behind the scenes.
After not being able to skate during the Fall Semester, the Orange were given the approval to skate in groups of 12 starting on February 15th. The guidelines set by the school limited the team to individual skills and no contact. In March the team received permission to allow up to 16 skaters on the ice. With an active roster of 23 members, most guys have been able to skate twice a week.
On March 13th, sophomore defenseman Mackenzie Murphy requested approval from Club Sports on behalf of the club, to host an intrasquad scrimmage. Murphy emphasized that the club had followed the rules and cooperated with officials since being allowed to return to the ice. Since returning to campus in the fall, the Orange have only had one positive case of COVID-19. Because the club has been following all of the proper precautions, the positive case did not lead to an outbreak.
Senior captain Connor Preston is looking forward to a return of normalcy when the Orange take to the ice on Wednesday. "I miss the normalcy of going to battle with the boys. Going into this year I only wanted one thing and that was to play one last game at Tennity wearing orange and blue." Preston wasn't the only one jumping at the opportunity to play again. For junior captain Tim Kalinowski it's been a long time coming, "The world was completely different last time we played. Now I’m just happy that we can play and get some closure on this year."
"Seeing them sacrifice so much of their own personal time to make sure our program excels and moves forward has been really motivating and makes me very excited for what the future holds." -Nik Manousos
Since the team returned to the ice in February, Preston and Kalinowski have led the team at each skill session, conducting drills and showcasing their commitment to the program. "It’s been awesome to see them both step up and take the initiative to lead our team in such uncertain times, and they’ve both done an outstanding job doing so," said sophomore goaltender Nik Manousos. After choosing to take classes remotely in the fall, Manousos rejoined his teammates on campus when approval was given to return to the ice. He was thankful for the work that captains had put in to make the skates possible, "Seeing them sacrifice so much of their own personal time to make sure our program excels and moves forward has been really motivating and makes me very excited for what the future holds."
As a reward for their efforts this semester, Preston and Kalinowski will have the opportunity to draft their own teams for the intrasquad scrimmage. Team Preston will wear the home white uniforms while Team Kalinowski will don the road blues in a rare appearance at Tennity. The draft will be held behind closed doors following the final skill session on Monday night. Both Preston and Kalinowski have already started thinking about their draft strategy. "Basically anyone who I hate practicing against, I’m gonna try and draft them," said Kalinowski, who echoed that he's looking for the hardest workers. Preston is going to look to add depth to his team throughout the draft, "I wanna have a roster that I know can maintain a high pace the entire game. Obviously also going to look for some goal-scoring and play-making ability off the start but the endurance aspect is going be big for me." Each team will have two goalies, six forwards, and four defensemen.
Although they've spent the semester leading the team through drills at each skill session, Preston and Kalinowski won't have to worry too much about when it comes to strategy on Wednesday night. Former head coach, Connor Treacy will make his return to Tennity alongside current assistant Andrew Wolinski. Treacy will be on one bench and Wolinksi behind the other. After stepping down from the program in April, the game will give Coach Treacy the opportunity for one last hurrah behind the bench for the Orange. "The guy has given so much to the program over the last 7 years and it’s only appropriate that he be there. I’m happy the school gave him the green light to do so," said Preston. Happy to see Treacy return to Tennity, Kalinowski didn't shy away from cracking a joke, "I just hope I don’t get benched."
When the Orange take to the ice on Wednesday night, they will do so with a 32 person limit. The 32 person limit includes 24 skaters, two coaches, two referees, one advisor, one photographer, and two members of the promotions staff. Due to the limit of people in the arena, the game will not be broadcasted. The promotions staff looks forward to providing updates throughout the club's social media channels.
The club is also excited to welcome first-year faculty advisor Seth Gitner to the game. Gitner has been a key component of the club throughout this difficult time. The referees? None other than Lucas Prestamo and Collin Morrow, who opted to take a gap year but have continued to work at Tennity during their time away from the classroom. Puck drop is set for Wednesday night at 7:00 pm.