By Kevin Dorr
Syracuse, NY– The Syracuse Orange (1-1-0) will play host to the Stony Brook Seawolves (0-0-0) this weekend. Last year, Stony Brook had their way with the Orange. The Seawolves won all four matchups in dominant fashion. In Syracuse’s defense, Stony Brook won most of their ESCHL games last season, steamrolling them in the process.
Stony Brook has an impressive program. They are a top team in the ACHA. However, the Orange are here to make some noise.
Against Kent State, the Orange showed glimpses of being a solid team. They were the better team overall in 5 of 6 periods over the weekend. To compete with Stony Brook, the Orange must battle every second of the game.
Last year, the Seawolves capitalized on power play opportunities, odd man rushes, and defensive zone turnovers from Orange defensemen. The Seawolves play with pace and physicality, so this weekend will be a good way to gauge the compete level of the Orange.
The Orange aren’t loaded with experience like many of their rivals. They are a young team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t hang with any team on their schedule. Many rookies made their presence felt over the weekend. Defenseman Connor Chesner had 2 goals in Saturday’s win, while playing shutdown defense. Jack Wren had an assist on Tim Cook’s second goal Friday night. Wren is a smooth skater who can carry the puck deep into the offensive zone. His skating and skillset will surely benefit those playing alongside him.
Patrick O’Hara is another freshman who made his ACHA debut last weekend. O’Hara noted that the pace and physicality are an adjustment, but he’s eager to compete each shift.
“I learned that there is a high compete level and a lot of physicality” said the forward. “When I’m on the ice, I need to have a better puck presence and get more comfortable with the pace of play”.
Freshmen Isaac Arnold, Luke Wong, AJ Finta, Sean Caddo, and Jack Alecia also made important contributions over the weekend. It’s easy to see that the program is moving in the right direction.
Junior Alex Oakes explained where the Orange have improved
“Last year we had a very young team with a new head coach,” noted the veteran defenseman. “This year we have a team that is older and more experienced. We’ve developed chemistry and it makes it easier stepping on the ice”.
Despite having an older roster compared to last year, the Orange are still a relatively young team. Limiting mistakes will be crucial for the Orange.
To win this game, the Orange must stay out of the penalty box. The Orange penalty kill units played well over the weekend, but Stony Brook was elite up a man last year.
Oakes, the 6’5 blueliner who logs a lot of minutes on the P.K., explained the keys to last weekend’s successes while short handed.
“We switched our system to better suit their 1-3-1 powerplay. We played aggressive, guys bought in, and it allowed us to kill penalties more effectively.”.
Staying at even strength will be a key for the Orange. The Seawolves converted on over 50% of their powerplay opportunities in 4 games against the Orange last year. Penalties are almost inevitable, but as long as players are blocking shots, getting sticks in passing lanes, and forcing the puck to the outside, they’ll be alright.
The ESCHL will be watching this one closely. Stony Brook, last year’s regular season and tournament champion, is opening their season against an improved Orange team looking to make a statement.
You can catch the action here, live on YouTube Friday @7PM. You can also watch from inside the Tennity Ice Pavilion.
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