Updated: Oct 30
By Brooke Killgore
Photo credit: Maria Kaffes (Instagram: @Mariakaffesimages)
SYRACUSE, NY— This weekend Syracuse Hockey hosted its annual “Pink the Rink” at Tennity Ice Pavilion to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the second half of a home-and-home series against the Oswego State Lakers. Players from both teams wore pink jerseys for their respective home games and the matches were filled with intene moments, first career games, and a community joined to support the cause.
The Orange headed into the series after a tough weekend against #17 Pittsburgh , where ‘Cuse could only score one goal. To continue pursuing their chances at the ESCHL playoffs, the team needed to come out strong and play fast against a good Lakers offense; one that has been up for ranking contention in recent months.
Syracuse traveled a short 45-minute journey to the Deborah F. Stanley Arena on Thursday. The first period was explosive for both sides. Sophomore forward Jack Alecia found the back of the net with eight minutes left and senior forward Sam Hutchinson followed suit with his own goal soon after. The Lakers answered these goals in their manner, and the 'Cuse headed to the locker room trailing 3-2.
The second period lacked goals from both Syracuse and Oswego State, even though the Lakers had several power play advantages over ‘Cuse. With the score stuck at 3-2 after 2, the Orange needed to produce in the third period.
As shots on goal increased, it was junior defenseman Lucas Skolnick who helped even the score in the third period for Syracuse, 3-3. The Orange dominated in the third period holding Oswego to only 4 shots, but the Orange could not find the back of the net to secure the win in regulation and they were headed to overtime.
As overtime progressed, neither team found the back of the net and it was now headed to the shootout, the first time this season for the Orange.
Shootouts are notoriously stressful, as three players are selected per round to try and score one-on-one with the opposing goaltender. Anticipation was rising as the shootout hit the fifth round and junior forward Evan Vassilovski began his attempt. He was what ‘Cuse needed at that moment as the Massachusetts local slid the puck past the goaltender effortlessly and finished the shootout, 4-3.
“I’m pretty confident in the shootout overall,” Vassilovski said. “It’s pretty nerve-wracking when everyone’s looking at you and you have a chance to win it. I knew what I was going to do and executed it well.”
Friday’s game came with not only the expectation to win, but also to bring awareness to those who suffer from breast cancer. In a show of support, Syracuse players wore pink jerseys alongside staff, media, and fans, who donned pink ties, shirts, and bracelets. The program also put on a raffle, where half the proceeds were donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
“To acknowledge and support those who currently battle or have battled [breast cancer] is always an honor for us,” head coach Chris Timmons discussed the importance of “Pink the Rink.”
“I think we all have some sort of connection to someone battling breast cancer and it’s great to fundraise to help those going through it.”
The close, shootout-ending game on Thursday was not apparent at all on Friday, as Syracuse came out of the gate running. Hutchinson knocked one in early in the first and the goals just kept on coming, including goals from freshman forward Brett Edgren and junior forward Anthony Solt—his first of the season. Syracuse won the game, 3-1.
Yet the celebration wasn’t just centered around the win. It was a monumental game for sophomore goaltender, John Angelino, who debuted in his first collegiate start Friday.
“It was awesome. I was a little nervous obviously, but once the first shots started coming in, you get dialed and get a feel for the flow,” the Massachusetts local described the surreal first game. “I’m a little [annoyed] that I missed that one, I was all over it, but maybe next game. It feels so amazing.”
Angelino dominated in net as he stopped 31 of 32 Oswego shots. He was named the “Celly Hockey Player Co. Player of the Game” for his outstanding contribution.
“[Angelino] competes every single day, [even] when he was only our practice goalie last year. He earned the start and proved he can compete to be in the normal rotation,” said coach Timmons.
Syracuse heads to Ohio University next weekend in hopes of increasing their positive record of 6-3-1 against the Bobcats. Puck drops are Friday and Saturday at 7pm. You can catch the games via radio call on the Syracuse Hockey Network.
You can donate to the Susan Komen Foundation at https://www.komen.org/#