By Owen Sienko
Syracuse, N.Y.-- The Syracuse University Men’s Club Ice Hockey season kicks off on Friday, October 4. After losing nine graduating seniors and eight other players, the theme for this year’s squad is change. Fans can expect to see plenty of fresh faces out on the ice for this new-look Orange team.
NEW YEAR, SAME EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE
Syracuse’s top-six forward group will largely remain the same this season. Veteran forwards Lucas Prestamo, and Connor Preston will be returning to the squad, along with the dynamic duo of Peter Owen Hayward and Matt Jacobs.
Other returning forwards, such as Chris Brunner-Grande, Zack Gordon, and Dylan Wheeler, can expect to take on much more ice time and responsibility this season.
“We lost a lot of guys who could really score and put up a lot of points in their careers, so I'm hoping I can step in and help to replace some of the scoring that we lost,” Brunner-Grande said.
Sophomore Tim Kalinowski will cheer his teammates on from the press box, as he will be out all season after receiving hip surgery for a torn labrum. That leaves five rookies to fill the remaining spots in the lineup.
A FRESH DEFENSE
The Syracuse blue line may experience the most growing pains this season. Five of the team’s eight rostered defensemen are rookies, and only two of the three returning defensemen have experience in more than ten games.
Newly-named alternate captains Ford Hatchett and Luke Caddo will lead the defensive core this year. Returning junior Kai Miller can expect to take on a much larger role in his second season with the Orange as well.
The remaining three spots will be filled by three of Syracuse’s five decorated rookie defensemen, whose combined high school experience has produced five state championships and three individual defensive honors.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’ve been blown away,” Hatchett said, referring to the rookie defensemen. “There will be growing pains as there always are for new players, but we have the potential to have a really solid back end.”
THE QUESTION OF GOALTENDING
Perhaps the biggest question mark heading into the season for the Orange is who will fill the void left in net by graduates Jake Kahler and Mike Cuozzo. Syracuse has a stock of four goaltenders heading into the season, including promising freshman rookies Jordan Edelstein and Nik Manousos.
The most experienced option in net is returning senior Eric Parker, who holds a .903 save percentage in 12 career games with the Orange. He says that this experience is an asset to him as a goaltender.
“It can be very valuable because you learn certain tendencies that shooters have and also you develop better positional awareness,” Parker said.
Another interesting candidate for the job is returning sophomore Cal Stewart, who made 32 saves on 34 shots in his first and only game last season. If Stewart is able to consistently perform to this standard this season, he may just lock up a starting job.
Expectations are high following Syracuse’s ESCHL Championship victory last season. The new leadership core, consisting of captain Peter Owen Hayward and alternate captains Luke Caddo, Ford Hatchett, and Matt Jacobs, will be tasked with guiding this young team to success.
“Any time you have success as a team you’d like to repeat it, but for right now I’m just focused on taking care of business one game at a time,” Caddo said.
Syracuse will open its 2019-2020 season with eight straight away games. Hatchett and Hayward say that they’re excited to get on the road.
“I think it’s really great for a young team to start out on the road. Road trips are where you get closer as a team,” Hayward said.
“Personally I enjoy getting booed way more than cheered, so I’m really looking forward to playing a few of our rivals on the road early,” Hatchett added.
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