By Isabella Apple
Syracuse, N.Y. -- The Syracuse Orange (3-7-2) will look to get back in the win column this weekend when they take on the first place Liberty Flames (14-3-0) at Tennity Ice Pavilion before the Thanksgiving break. Syracuse, who have earned points in their last three games, will attempt to continue this streak as they climb their way back up in the standings.
It has been just over a month since the Orange visited the Flames in Virginia for the first time since Syracuse upset Liberty in the ESCHL Tournament Final. Since being swept by the Flames, Syracuse has improved their play tremendously, taking fewer penalties, and scoring on power-play opportunities.
Last weekend, the Orange proved their fast scoring potential when they netted three goals in under four minutes to come back from a late 4-1 deficit to the Stony Brook Seawolves and force overtime. Despite falling in the shootout, Syracuse was able to grab three of four points this past weekend.
Captain Peter-Owen Hayward knows they have that offensive ability, and scoring in bunches as they have been can only help build their confidence as an offense.
“When we’ve struggled the most this year a lot of it has been related to having trouble putting the puck in the net,” said the forward. “It’s definitely a confidence boost knowing that we were able to [score three fast goals] against a good opponent and hopefully we can get those bursts of scoring a little bit earlier in the game going forward.”
The Flames are coming off a tough two-game series against NYU, splitting the series and handing NYU their first ESCHL loss of the season. Liberty struggled on the power play against NYU in their win scoring on just two of nine opportunities.
Regardless of the Flames’ recent power play struggles, freshman defenseman Mackenzie Murphy knows the Orange must stay out of the box.
“We’ll need to keep our feet moving and our heads on straight. The teams in our league, especially Liberty, have power plays that will make you pay. When we play five-on-five we can skate with anyone,” said Murphy.
One of the biggest struggles for the Orange this season has been starting fast, but when they play with urgency as they have shown in do-or-die situations, they are an offensive force to be reckoned with.
Defensively, Syracuse will have their hands full with an explosive Liberty team. Alternate captain Ford Hatchett knows they won’t be able to stop Liberty from getting their looks, but they can control the quality of the opportunities they get.
“It’s all about containing their chances. With a team that talented you know they’re going to get a few good looks at the net but if we can limit those to outside shots with no rebounds our chances improve dramatically,” said the 6’4” defenseman.
If Syracuse plans on taking down No. 6 Liberty this weekend, it’s going to take a clean and complete game from everyone on the ice. Join the Orange on Friday, November 22, at 6:30 p.m. from Tennity Ice Pavilion before heading home for Thanksgiving break. Or tune in live from home on the SU Men's Hockey Website (https://www.suhockey.com/about-26).
By E-mail: Iengelha@syr.edu
By Twitter: @Isabella_skye23