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Recognizing the Six Seniors Being Honored Before Sunday’s Game

Updated: Feb 18

By Brooke Killgore 

Photo Credit: Maria Kaffes (Instagram: @Mariakaffesimages)

The bite of the chilly air, the screeching of skates hitting the ice and the roar of the crowd as the puck finds the back of the net. For three players, their lives have been consumed by the sport, and continuously worked to make themselves and their game the best possible. Whether it be leading the team in points as an alternate captain, holding the defensive zone steady, or doing everything possible to support the team on and off the ice; Sam Hutchinson, Alex Oakes, and John Coggiola have demonstrated their utmost commitment to their home program: the Syracuse Orange. 

Sunday afternoon marks the beginning of the end, but not in a bad way—rather the start of a new chapter after four years of wearing the iconic “S” on their chests. We recognize the efforts of our three seniors and have worked to produce profiles about their careers, their introduction to hockey and the impact left behind.

Sam Hutchinson: Senior Captain and Left-Wing 

Hailing from the neighborhood of Dorchester in the city of Boston, senior left-wing Sam Hutchinson was involved in hockey for a large part of his life. His father, Ed, spent time in high school hockey, which translated into Hutchinson’s first attempt at skating—at the age of three. Even if he may not remember lacing up for the first time, the senior kept hockey within his blood and pursued a steady career with various youth programs up until his entrance to the Boston Latin School. On the smaller side in 9th grade, Hutchinson impressed head coach Frank Woods with his situational awareness in close matchups. 

By his junior year, he wore the “C ” for a captain proudly and was one of the few alumni to surpass 100+ points in his career. From there, Hutchinson intended to do a PG year at prep school but hockey was canceled due to COVID-19. After viewing the Syracuse academics and the men’s hockey social media pages, Hutchinson decided to come to Syracuse in Fall 2020. Unfortunately, athletics at SU were canceled and the Fall semester cut short due to COVID-19. Hutchinson went home to Boston and played in the Juniors league with the Valley Jr Warriors of the EHL. He then returned to Syracuse in Spring 2021 and joined the program during the 2021-2022 season, and has skyrocketed since then. Currently, the senior leads the team with 31 total points (15 goals and 16 assists) — by far the most in his time at Syracuse. In total, Hutchinson has accumulated 66 points in his three years. 

“I just put my head down and go to work. Nobody tells me I can’t do anything…People know that I’m going to make stuff happen and I’m going to try to outwork you,” Hutchinson described his interpretation of his success. 

In his free time, the senior will do anything related to his sport; whether it be roller hockey or playing in a summer college hockey league created by SU teammate Anthony Larkin. Rumor has it that he could return for another semester, yet it has not been 100% confirmed. 

“I can’t say enough about his work ethic and how he has improved over the past couple of seasons,” head coach Chris Timmons said. “If this is his last game, I’m glad he goes out with a “C” on his chest as he deserves it, but hopeful we get one more semester.”

Hutchinson looks to continue a track in pre-law after he graduates from SU. The senior wants to be remembered for always playing his game, keeping his head in the right place, and always giving his all on and off the ice. 

Alex Oakes: Senior Defenseman

For senior defenseman Alex Oakes, the relationships and team building have been what makes the sport so intriguing. Growing up on the Akwesasne reservation in Canada, also known as St. Regis Mohawk; After picking up the stick, he fell in line with both Tim and Kade Cook: two current forwards for the men’s team. The trio attended Salmon River Central High where Oakes recorded 22 points (10 goals and 12 assists) in his time there, alternating between forward and defenseman. He decided to join SU, after receiving the Haudenosaunee Promise scholarship, which supports and empowers students of Native American descent on their academic journey. 

Oakes officially solidified his role as a defenseman coming into Syracuse and has proven to be an impactful player. In the past two seasons, he has recorded six points (two goals and four assists). Off the ice, Oakes has been a big part in creating team bonding activities and outings to build a stronger connection. For Tim Cook, his dedication to his teammates will be the hardest part to let go of.

“He’s probably been the most important guy for team chemistry off the ice since he’s got here. He’s always got big plans and he gets everyone involved. The teams going to miss him a lot but we all know he’ll be visiting quite a bit.”

For Timmons, Oakes was a coachable player who showed up when needed most—a quality that will be dearly missed.

“It’s been a pleasure coaching Oakes and seeing him grow over the past couple of years. He’s a team guy and is willing to do whatever is asked to get in the lineup as well as push our guys to be better day in and day out,” Timmons described. “I look forward to seeing him have success going forward in his career and he is going to be missed.”

After graduation, Oakes hopes to take a bit of time off before working for his family back home. Even with hockey coming to a close, he is looking forward to playing beer league with T. Cook when he graduates. He hopes his community will think of him as the teammate who made the most contributions whether it be setting up events to connect his SU hockey family through paintball or summer break trips. 

“Senior day doesn’t just mean my last game; it means the end of road trips, sharing meals and having laughs in the locker room. I believe the [things] you do off the ice turn your teammates into [your] family.”

Johnny Coggiola: Former Forward and Current Social Media/Tennity Ice Pavilion Staff Member 

Not many 'Cuse players can say their first time lacing up their skates as a kid was at Tennity Ice Pavilion but for senior forward Johnny Coggiola, he lived and breathed the home of the Syracuse Orange. Growing up in Liverpool, Coggiola spent his childhood cheering on the men’s team—a foreshadowing of his future— and playing hockey with his older brother Nick, who took on a goaltender role for his respective team. He knew that this would be his university from the get-go as both his brother and sister attended Syracuse. 

The senior started his freshman year at Liverpool High School and accumulated 25 points (10 goals and 15 assists) throughout his career as a Warrior. Coming into SU, Coggiola knew the men’s team had only graduated a few seniors with few spots open for a forward; which he secured. Unfortunately for Syracuse, athletics were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the men’s team was subjected to simple stick-and-puck games on the ice—if they were lucky. Even after the team came back into the swing of things, bad luck hit him as he tore his ACL, MCL, and meniscus his junior year. 

For many, an injury is the end-all of their careers but he chose to not let it steer him away from his passion. Instead, Coggiola learned how to help out with the team's Instagram page during his rehabilitation process from a fellow scratch and began using it as an outlet to connect with his teammates. He has taught staff members the same process he went through, becoming a staple member of the program.  

“[Senior Day] just means a lot because you go up every year and you see the other seniors ending their career,” Coggiola said. “I’ve had a great time…I can’t complain.”

This season, Coggiola graduated early and is pursuing his master’s at SU while working at Tennity; meaning he cannot play for the team. Yet, he was able to suit up for the weekend series against No. 7 Liberty in January and skate alongside his friends one last time. 

“[He is] another day one player for me and [was] a part of helping create [and bring] this program to where it is today,” Timmons mentioned. “[A] team guy who was willing to do whatever was needed to help the team. Even though he’s graduating, I look forward to working with him at the rink in the future.” 

Coggiola is looking to potentially pursue a future in the medical field. He wants his teammates, fans, and community to remember him for making the most of his time and for taking the program seriously while making the most of his time here at SU.

Honoring Senior Staff Members

The success of the Syracuse men’s program can not go without the recognition of three dedicated media staff who are also graduating this year. Many players credit their discovery of the men’s team to our social media pages and website—which have produced timely and up-to-date articles, Instagram and X posts, and free broadcasts for fans to tune in. Thanks to their efforts, students from the moment they come to SU can gain hands-on experience and build connections that will last a lifetime. Whether it be learning how to effectively write a post-game summary with a deadline or how to explain to a viewer what just happened and why; these three taught the next generation how to thrive in a productive and realistic environment for the future. 

Director of Communications Zoe Jurmann ensured all moments of the game were updated to the team's social media pages, Head of Broadcasting Jared Johnston organized the on-air teams for both home and away games, and broadcaster/former player Colby Ratel found a new path after an injury: commentating for his former team. In addition to the three players, we recognize the dedication of the program's media staff.. 

Zoe Jurmann: Director of Communications

Walking across the ice on Senior Day is the Director of Communications who brings more than just her social media skills to the table. Zoe Jurmann is a talented writer—currently producing content for Eyes On Isles—, a thoughtful leader who finds places for those who put in the effort, and one of the biggest New York Islanders fans on this side of the state. Jurmann’s Islanders fascination stemmed from her grandfather, who grew up loving hockey in Austria during the war. After moving to the States, her father happened to be born the same year the Islanders were founded: 1972. 

Her family took the connection as a sign and Jurmann became part of a season-ticket-holding family, going to games as early as she could remember. From there, the senior put her love of sports into writing, and after committing to Syracuse for the Newhouse Schools’ Public Relations major; she discovered the men’s program’s Instagram post calling for a potential beat writer. 

After writing for the news section of the website for the majority of her time, she eventually transitioned into heading the whole communications department. The rest is history for the Director of Communications, who put all her energy and effort into producing the best, possible content for our audiences. Her time has been well spent, especially with creating entertaining TikToks and Instagram posts while showcasing to our audience the humanity behind our players. 

Whether it be organizing recaps for our viewerships, working with coaches to plan out events or just being a shoulder to lean on for her staff; Jurmann is the depiction of strength and commitment. Her willingness to be there for all her staff and take time out her life to better her staff and the program are what her a strong leader. In her opinion, it’s the people, especially the female staff that have had the greatest impact during her four years. 

“I think it's hard because I'm in a male-dominated world working in sports but in a female-dominated occupation,” Jurmann said. “We deserve to be treated with as much respect as anyone else that we're going to work with that day.”

Assistant coach Jordan Alhart, who contributes and helps oversee the communications and broadcasting department, described how impactful Jurmann’s efforts have been for the Orange.

“Zoe has been in a lot of different roles for us in her time with [our program]. From writing and editing websites articles to shooting and editing videos to managing our social media platforms. Again, she is someone that has helped elevate our program and has put in countless hours of work to bring the best coverage and exposure for Syracuse Hockey.”

Jurmann hopes to find a spot working in media relations for a professional sports team in the future. She wants to be remembered for trying to break through in a male-dominated field and even if it takes sticking a microphone in someone’s face, she will work to do everything in her power to promote her team. 

Jared Johnston: Head of Broadcasting

For the Tampa Bay native and current Syracuse Crunch broadcast intern, the Syracuse men’s program didn’t become part of his life until his junior year. Yet Jared Johnston carries the weight of the broadcasting program on his shoulders—a task he has met and exceeded expectations with.

A dedicated fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Johnston picked up a stick later in life—much to his mother’s fear of injury— and it was there he learned about the power of a team, not just the individual. He used his lessons in his youth league to understand what an individual’s role is and how you can be a part of something bigger than yourself: something he applies to his daily life. 

In terms of broadcasting, when his high school opened their own live streaming operations; he jumped in line to beginning producing content, even if he thought he may not have improved much. Yet, his abilities and skills improved significantly after selecting the S.I. Newhouse School to be his home for the next four years. His reasoning was the connections he could easily build, just by getting to know his fellow peers. 

“People just have to ask questions and if you ask questions, chances are someone knows someone or there's something you can do or anything you can help out with,” Johnston said. “And like I think that's the difference between a lot of other schools.”

Johnston came across the SU men’s program through the work of our social media and after reaching out to the team, the rest is history. Johnston has spearheaded the team throughout this season, working to utilize new equipment, send a staff member to every away game and ensure each broadcast was up to standards. 

“Jared has played a pivotal part in improving our broadcasts the past 2 seasons,” Alhart mentioned. “He has done a lot of work behind the scenes in making the SU Hockey Network more professional and has raised the standards for our broadcasts and game coverage…Jared has also traveled with the team to help cover away games this season - something that he came up with and made possible”

For his future, he hopes to find a position where he can continue gaining experience, even if it may not be hockey related. Johnston wishes to be remembered as someone who gave others a chance to succeed if they showed up and that by truly understanding relationships with others, you build a better career. 

Colby Ratel: Former Defenseman and Current Broadcaster 

Resilience is the best word to describe former player and now senior broadcaster Colby Ratel. For the Maryland native, the game is so much more than points and intensity; it’s the off-the-ice growth that makes it full circle. 

Ratel was raised a die-hard Buffalo Sabres fan, especially after watching their 2007 playoff run against the Rangers. After watching right-wing Maxim Afinogenov score late into overtime, he was hooked and picked up the stick soon after. Working his way up into the ranks of Kent Island High, Ratel became an asset for the Buccaneers, even after suffering an injury early in his career. 

The senior remembers his high school Senior Night, where he may have had an early case of COVID. Regardless, he recounts battling through the sickness on an “energy high” from the large crowd; scoring a goal with two assists in his first three shifts of the night. From there, Ratel found his home at SU where he pursued a broadcast degree with the Newhouse School.

After COVID desolated Tennity Ice Pavilion for a year, Ratel adapted to a new, high speed environment. Unfortunately, he almost lost his thumb during a game and had to watch from the sidelines as his team played without him and admitted to struggling severely without hockey. Yet, Ratel didn’t sit in gloom waiting for a miracle to happen. Instead, he wanted to connect with his team by utilizing his major in a more hands-on way. 

“We had the pleasure of both coaching Colby when he was on the team in 2021-22 and having him as a part of our operations staff the past two seasons. He’s had an awesome ability to connect with our players and brings that element into our broadcasts,” said Alhart. “We’ve also been fortunate to have him travel with the team throughout this season to help cover away games (with radio broadcasts) – something that we have not had in the past.”

After college, Ratel wants to take some time before pursuing either a commentary role for a sports program or dive into his love for filmmaking. He wants his community to remember him for keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity and being his team’s biggest supporter in any way possible.

You can catch Jared Johnston and Colby Ratel on the air, Zoe Jurmann on social media and Sam Hutchinson, Alex Oakes and Johnny Coggiola taking the ice for the final time at 2 p.m. 

All home games are played at the Tennity Ice Pavilion on Syracuse University’s campus and are free to attend for students and the general public. Home games are also broadcast live for free on the SU Hockey Network.

Contact me:

X: @BKillgore13

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