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Syracuse Takes on No. 8 Liberty on ESPN+

Updated: Jan 20

By Gino Antimarino

Photo By Maria Kaffes (Instagram: @Mariakaffesimages)

After dropping both games against Rhode Island to start the new year, Syracuse (10-8-2, 2-5-1 ESCHL) travels to Virginia to take on #8 Liberty (12-6-1 overall) . 

The Orange played in a rare environment last weekend, with the team playing in their annual Upstate Medical University Arena game. Now, this weekend, Syracuse plays in one of the most well-known traditions in ACHA hockey: The Liberty Midnight Game. Every year, the Flames schedule a few contests right before curfew at 11:59 p.m. to play in front of a sold-out crowd. And this season, SU gets to take part in such an extraordinary atmosphere.

“I’m really excited for this weekend,” alternate captain Connor Chesner said. “I think this will be an experience that I will never get to experience again. Going to this game at Liberty, with all of the fans, and all of the madness, and with the game being on ESPN, it’s something that every kid wishes they could do, and we’re so lucky that we get to do this.”

In the last Midnight Mayhem game, the Flames topped the Pitt Panthers, 5-3, and swept the weekend series in early December. Chesner knows how good Liberty is and how much this midnight matchup means to the team and its fans.

“They have a lot of experience, and they’ve played with each other for a very long time,” Chesner explained. “They have that crowd atmosphere that we haven’t really seen since Bird Arena in Ohio, so they’re going to have a big advantage.”

“I kind of have a good sense of what the atmosphere is like (at Liberty),” Head Coach Chris Timmons said. “I think we’re up for the task and up for the challenge.”

While this weekend may seem like a tough matchup for Syracuse, it may also prove to be a difficult one for Liberty, as well. LU has not played since December 1st and 2nd in the Pittsburgh series. Liberty may have to knock the rust off its skates, while Syracuse already has two games under its belts since the new year. 

With so much uncertainty, one thing is certain: this weekend’s set of games gives the Orange exposure. Playing against top teams allows for Syracuse to get better and know what to strive for.

“I think it’s good just for a learning experience,” Timmons stated. “Understanding what the work is going to have to be on our end in order to stay at the top consistently.”

Opening puck drop on Friday is at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s matchup begins at 11:59 p.m. You can catch both games on the Syracuse Hockey Network and stream on ESPN+.

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