By Zoe Jurmann
SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- The Syracuse Orange (0-2-0) kicked off their season in a weekend series against the Stony Brook Seawolves (2-0-0). The Orange were outplayed on both ends by the Seawolves all weekend, going down 8-1 on Friday night, and Saturday afternoon.
After a long 18 months without Syracuse Orange hockey, the Zamboni ran over the ice one final time as the team mentally and physically prepared for a tough battle against an experienced Stony Brook team.
Syracuse Men's Basketball #35 Buddy Boeheim ahead of the season opener.
The weekend started out with a bang with Syracuse Men’s Basketball star Buddy Boeheim participating in a ceremonial puck drop before the home opener.
Boeheim expressed his appreciation for being invited, and for the men on the team.
“It's great to be here. I know some of them well, and they’re great guys obviously. I'm sure they're pumped up to have fans in here... I know we’re excited [to have] fans back,” said the senior shooting guard.
Boeheim said he’s happy to support the club hockey team as they are all athletes who love to play their game.
“[I’m] happy for them to get fans [and] games going again and they're just like us... we're both student-athletes, and [we] represent Syracuse and, you know, it's great to be fellow athletes with them.”
Defenseman Mackenzie Murphy was glad to have fans in the building.
“It was great. After everything, this team has been through, not only in the last year, but this past week, it was great seeing such a big crowd.”
On Friday night, the game started off fast-paced, with both teams holding their own in the first. However, as the game went on, and the Seawolves began scoring goal after goal in the second, the Orange found themselves in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
It seemed like nothing was clicking this weekend, and the young Syracuse team seemed to struggle without a jump to their offense. The Orange have 13 rookies currently rostered and several played big minutes during their first games. The Seawolves, on the other hand, have a much older and more experienced team.
Murphy was happy to see the rookies get their college hockey careers started.
“Stony Brook is a good team with a heavy veteran presence. It’s no secret that we have a young team and I think the rookies gained a lot of experience tonight,” said Murphy about the season opener. “These rookies have put in a lot of work the past couple of weeks and it was great to see so many of them make their collegiate debuts tonight.”
The Orange offense made silly mistakes, missed passes, and bad center-ice turnovers all weekend. This led to them being outshot 44-18 on Friday and 63-6 on Saturday. The Seawolves’ game was so strong on Saturday that they were able to hold the Orange to 0 shots on goal until midway through the second period.
New Head Coach Chris Timmons had hoped for a better outcome from the weekend.
“This whole weekend we kind of had a growing experience especially with such a young group, you know, it's more of just to see where we need to be in this league and how competitive it is,” commented the coach. “The biggest takeaway for us is…we're gonna look at those mistakes and we're going to work on and progress, but this group definitely has a lot of potential and a lot of upsides, and it's just more or less connecting the dots to make sure that we can translate it and grow throughout the season.”
Rookie centerman Sam Hutchinson added, “We’re a very young team in our league, with it being the first college hockey game of half of our roster’s career (including myself), it’s only natural that there’s gonna be a lot of nerves to get out.” The sophomore added, “We battled hard but the game got away from us quickly.”
“I think we just need to be more confident in ourselves and our ability, we’re a young team, but we proved at times that we have the ability to hang with the top teams,” said Hutchinson, “We just need to put together a full 60 minutes and we’ll have as good a chance against anyone.”
The biggest struggle that the Orange faced this weekend, besides a lack of offense was staying out of the penalty box. Friday night, the Orange took over 30 minutes in penalties, plus a game ejection for junior defenseman Austin Ricker for a hit to the head. The Seawolves, being known for their intense power play, capitalized on their chances, scoring five power play goals on Friday.
The Orange were luckily able to clean up their game a bit for Saturday’s mateée, only taking 26 minutes in penalties, including one 10 minute major for unsportsmanlike conduct. Additionally, the penalty kill was much better, shutting down the Seawolves’ power play and allowing just one goal on the day.
It seemed like the saving grace for the Orange this weekend was in net with senior netminder Calder “Cal” Stewart who saved 39-of-44 shots on Friday and 45-of-52 shots on Saturday. The entire Orange team was thankful for Stewart’s strong presence between the pipes as he made what seemed like huge save after save.
Senior Goaltender #35 Cal Stewart in net against Stony Brook
In preparation for next weekend, Stewart said he hopes to just keep improving.
“I'm hoping just to, you know, put one foot in front of the other and keep going as just keep competing and keep battling for every shot.” He continued, “hopefully we have a good week of practice this week so we can cut and kind of tighten up some stuff in the defensive zone so we're not in a place where we're giving up 50 shots a game.”
Coach Timmons is excited to get the team going for next weekend.
“It's got to be the mentality that it's the next game and you know it's something that we reciprocated even before this weekend is that you know we always want to be looking forward.”
It is obvious that this young team believes in itself, and will gain experience and flow as the season goes on. The Orange are hoping for things to look up both offensively and defensively in their weekend series against Drexel next weekend.
You can next see the Orange face off against Drexel on October 8th at 6:30 for Greek Night at Tennity Ice Pavilion.
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