By Brooke Killgore
Photo Credit: Arnav Pokhrel (Instagram: Prod_ adp)
WAYNE, NJ—It was clear that the Thanksgiving break did not affect Syracuse as the Orange swept the William Patterson Pioneers this past weekend. Perhaps the heavy meals and festive cheer boosted the team’s spirits as they dominated 9-1 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday.
The ‘CUSE encountered some "bus legs"and delays on Friday night, which could’ve been detrimental to their play overall. There was also the concern of Pioneers’s offense with senior forward Adam Marvin, who currently leads the ECHA conference with 33 points (12 G and 21 A in the last 14 games).
Yet, the floodgates were opened as sophomore forward Jack Wren found the back of the net early into the first period. Sophomore alternate captain Connor Chesner joined the Saratoga native later on in the period as well.
But, it was a bittersweet night as sophomore forward Jack Alecia returned to the ice for the first time in five games. After sustaining an injury against Ohio University back in November, Alecia was eager to get back on the ice—and it was evident.
“Coming back from injury, it’s always hard but I’m happy to be back and help the team in any way I can,” the Connecticut native said. The Celly Hockey Co. Player of the Game found himself with a hat trick, where he scored in all three periods. The sophomore credited his teammates as the reason for his success.
“I think my shot was just going. They were all generated off great passes, one from Brock Alvers on the breakout which lead to the breakaway. On the power play, Carter Rugg gave me a great pass backdoor and I just had to tuck it in. My teammates were able to find me.”
In terms of changes to the lineup, Friday’s game also saw a new freshman face on the line. Forward Brendan Duffy filled in for Matt Mahoney, who suffered from an illness prior to the series.
“I think Duffy has been playing well honestly. He stepped up into a big role against Stonybrook when we lost Brock there for a little bit. He’s been playing consistently well since” head coach Chris Timmons said. “Duffy is one of those guys who can add a little bit of grit, which Mahoney added to that line. So we felt it would be a good fit and he did a good job.”
Duffy finished the night with a goal in the third and was credited with three assists during the series.
It was a stellar night on both sides of the puck, yet the 9-1 score could not be celebrated without recognizing sophomore goaltender AJ Finta. Finta recorded a .923 save percentage after 60 minutes and protected the net against 35 Pioneer shots.
Heading into Saturday, the team announced a fresh starting line, and starting goaltender, with junior Chris Spano defending the net. Alongside Spano, a newer face made his official mark on the ice.
Freshman forward Kade Cook came out of the locker room flying, where he not only scored twice on Saturday, but even contributed a goal on Friday. His efforts and his play earned him the Celly Hockey Co. Player of the Game. Yet, the game meant more because he shared the ice with his older brother, senior forward Tim Cook—who also scored on Saturday.
“It was pretty cool, and as brothers, there’s always going to be that sense of competition between the two of us,” the freshman said. “For us to both score in the same game helped us both [play] our best and [pushed] us forward.”
Overall, the Orange finished the game 6-2 over the Pioneers. Spano maintained a .784 save percentage, which allowed the ‘CUSE to dominate and sweep their second series in a row.
“I think more or less, playing to our structure and our system; keeping it simple [is the key],” Timmons described the series overall.
Syracuse—now 10-7-1—heads home for the winter break, but returns to take on Rhode Island at home on January 12th at 7 p.m. and 13th at 2 p.m. The Orange get the chance to showcase their skills in a larger arena on that Saturday as they head to the home of the Syracuse Crunch: Upstate Medical Arena. 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.
*January 13th game at Upstate Medical Arena. Check our website suhockey.com for more information.