By Isabella Apple
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Syracuse Orange 3-9-2 will play the University of Rhode Island Rams 8-9-1 to cap off 2019 before heading into their winter break. The Orange will look to get back in the win column before heading home for the holidays.
Syracuse is looking to bounce back against the Rams this weekend coming off a tough series against top-ranked Liberty. Despite scoring nine goals last weekend - seven coming from forward Lucas Prestamo - Liberty’s high flying offense was the star of the show.
Prestamo, in his junior year, has taken leaps forward on the ice this season for the Orange. After losing nine seniors, Prestamo has elevated his play to help support Syracuse offensively.
Compared to the entire 2018-19 season, Prestamo has more than doubled his goals while playing half as many games this season. Through just 14 games this year, the junior has already matched his 16-point total from last season.
The forward credits his recent puck luck with keeping the game simple.
“[I’m trying to] just keep things simple and go to the net as much as possible since a lot of my success has come from driving hard to the net,” he said. “We look to use our speed in all 3 zones [and] lockdown our D zone first [to create offensive chances].”
After opening the season with a 6-3-1 record through their first ten games, the Rams have also stumbled a bit as of late. They have dropped six of their last eight matches with four of those losses coming to ESCHL opponents. Much like Syracuse has this season,
URI has been falling just short in closely contested games recently.
This will be the first meeting between the Rams and the Orange this season. All-time, URI and Syracuse share a 9-9-0 record. If Syracuse wants to get back in the win column and end the semester on a high note they will need to be tight defensively and capitalize on quality scoring opportunities.
Captain Peter-Owen Hayward knows offensive chances come from sound defenses.
“D-zone has been key for us all year. We don’t have as prolific of an offense as we’ve had in the past so limiting how much the other team scores is huge for us,” said the senior. “If we play well in our system we’ll limit their high-quality chances and be able to counter-attack with their forwards caught low.”
Much of Syracuse’s struggles this season have come when they have been trying to complicate the game instead of playing sound two-way hockey. The Orange are at their best when they control the neutral zone and can withstand offensive zone pressure on opposing goalies.
Alternate captain Ford Hatchett knows ending the semester on a high note is important for this group.
“We’re all very talented and we just have to trust ourselves to get creative and make plays,” said the 6’4” defenseman. “We’re treating these games as an exclamation point on our semester and a chance to [climb the standings]. We know we have to be better in our own end than we [have been] if we want to have a chance.”
The Orange will face off against the Rams on Friday, December 6. Join Syracuse at Tennity Ice Pavilion when the puck drops at 6:00 p.m. or tune in live online at https://www.suhockey.com/about-26.
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