By Gino Antimarino
Photo Credit: Arnav Pokhrel (Instagram: @Prod_adp)
Tennity Ice Pavilion opens its doors for a men’s club hockey battle between Syracuse and John Carroll on Saturday and Sunday. After going 1-0-1 last weekend against RMU, the Orange have an opportunity to add to their win column on their own rink.
Capitalizing on home-cooking was not always the case for Syracuse. Last year, SU lost 10 out of 15 games at Tennity Ice. New additions to the roster at the start of this season have bolstered the Syracuse lineup from top to bottom. Sophomore forward Isaac Arnold is ecstatic for the Orange faithful to get a glimpse at how much this group has improved over the summer.
“I think we have a great team this year,” Arnold said. “We took 14 fresh new guys, they’re killing it. They really brought up the practice intensity… So I think we got a good shot this year at surprising some people that came to our games last year. It will be a completely different game. I’m really excited to show our fans what we’ve kind of got going this year.”
Despite Syracuse starting its 2023-24 campaign last weekend, the Blue Streaks already have six games under their belts. John Carroll is 3-2-1 heading into Saturday’s matchup. The two regulation losses are the results of both away contests JCU has played so far. Though John Carroll’s record is nothing to write home about, six games of building better comradery and chemistry among teammates might be advantageous for the Blue Steaks. But junior forward Evan Vassilovski does not look too much into it. All that really matters to him, is the effort levels put into each opponent.
“The more games the better…” Vassilovski explained. “It’s just (about) who comes more prepared. Who practices harder.”
Arnold explained that John Carroll’s more in-season experience might actually be a weakness, not a strength.
“I don’t know if (more games played) will give them more of an advantage in the game. I think they might come in overconfident and cocky because they are up there in the rankings, but they haven’t played us.”
The Blue Streaks have a couple players on hot streaks. In the last two seasons with JCU, forward Sean Deakin has notched 52 points through 54 games. The junior rolls into this year and leads his team in scoring with nine goals and 11 points. Alongside Deakin, linemate Tyler Putnam, found the back of the net twice and has recorded seven points. Arnold explained that the way to stop good players is to defend them with even better body positioning.
“Something that we’ve really taken to heart this year is being more physical and in this league, the top teams are physical. And that’s kind of a way to shut down guys who are great skilled-guys, great goal-scorers, but when you lay the body on them, every time they touch the puck, there’s nowhere for them to move.”
Arnold, Vassilovski and the rest of the Orange have a chance to silence John Carroll’s playmakers this weekend. Puck drop for the home opener is at 8 p.m. on Saturday, followed by an afternoon affair on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both games can be streamed via the SU Hockey Network on YouTube.