By Brooke Killgore
Photo Credit: Anrva Pokhrel (Instagram: @Prod_adp)
Syracuse, NY–Not only are the Orange looking to add two more wins to their 4-1-1 record against a tough Pittsburgh line this weekend, but this series marks something more special than the play. ‘Cuse celebrates the homecoming of their alumni.
Alumni Weekend—October 20th through October 22nd—showcases the success of previous men’s teams as well as highlights the careers of several players throughout the years. Alongside two intense matchups between Syracuse and the University of Pittsburgh, the Orange host an honorary banquet to induct several alumni into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, alongside an 8 a.m. matchup of both former and present players on Sunday.
Many players can reflect on the alums’ contributions and peek into the program's history. For sophomore forward Sean Caddo, this weekend series means more than just reflecting—it means playing for his brother.
“I think [my brother, Luke] made a lot of contributions to Syracuse hockey. Obviously, they won the ECHL and they made Nationals his freshman year. They were just huge in getting the program on the map,” Caddo said. “My two older brothers and I, we all played from a young age and I definitely look up to both of them.”
Senior forward and alternate captain Sam Hutchinson discussed his excitement about sharing the rink with his former teammates. He mentioned some memories with the alum, many of which are headed back to Tennity Ice Pavilion this weekend.
“It’s going to be awesome. Last year, it was a ton of fun, just having guys who care about the program, who want to give back, and who want to be around us,” Hutchinson said.
Forward Tim Cook described the feeling of Alumni Weekend and how the energy may help motivate the team.
“It’s always nice to have a crowd that’s really loud and they always bring the energy because they love the program,” the Fort Covington native said. “They’re always on our half of the ice, so they’re always yelling at us to get us hyped.”
Yet, the competition against Pittsburgh can’t be forgotten in the midst of celebration.
The Panthers ranked #18 in the entire American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) last year and their main threat is senior captain and forward Oldrich Virag, who in total has given Pittsburg 93 points during his career. This season, he has scored 12 goals and assisted with 4, making him a force to be reckoned with.
Freshman goaltender for the Panthers, Sam Coppola, mentioned the key strengths of the Pittsburgh line and Virag’s contributions.
“We are as strong offensively as we are defensively. Everyone on the team steps up when needed, including some of the newer guys. [Our captain] Virag is one of those guys who makes everyone around him better and always gives 110%.”
Even though they came off a strong season last year, Pittsburgh is 4-4-1 at the moment. If Syracuse can continue their ability to defend the net—showcased after a star-studded performance from goaltender A.J. Finta against Kent State—and create momentum on the power plays, two wins should be added easily to their record.
The Orange hit the ice on Friday at 7 p.m. and on Saturday at 2 p.m., playing to honor the alumni and Hall of Fame inductee crowd. All home games are played at the Tennity Ice Pavilion on Syracuse University’s campus and are free to attend for students and the general public. Home games are also broadcast live for free on the SU Hockey Network.