By Kevin Dorr
Photo Credit: Arnav Pokhrel
Lewiston, NY– The Syracuse Orange (9-15-1) will head west this weekend to face off against the #13 Niagara Purple Eagles (16-9-0). 4 points will be on the line in this ESCHL matchup. The Orange, currently in a playoff position, must make the most of this weekend.
“This is a huge weekend for us in terms of playoff positioning”, said sophomore Anthony Larkin. “We know they are a good team and we have to be ready for a tough, physical series”.
After a 6-2 victory last Saturday at Canisius, the Orange have proved that they are better than what their record indicates. 6 of their 15 regulation losses have come by 2 goals or less. For the Orange, it’s a matter of finishing their scoring chances.
“We have been working on burying our shots in practice”, said Larkin. “As a team, we haven’t been great so if we want to bury our chances in games we have to start in practice”.
Capitalizing on opportunities will come from bearing down in front of the net. Playing tough and with a sense of urgency is something the orange must do this weekend.
“Our team has struggled with scoring more than two goals a game and our coaches have emphasized that we need to crash the net hard and find loose pucks in the slot,” said senior Vincent Barone. To win games, we need our players to leave everything on the ice. Our success has come when we have every guy playing as hard as they can”.
Syracuse has shown its depth with six goals coming from six different skaters against Canisius. ‘Cuse has the ability to comfortably roll out 4 lines that each contribute in different ways.
According to Barone, the team's depth has helped define roles for each line. With these lines combining complementary skill sets comes a well-rounded forward group.
“Each of the four lines has a specific role and we have found success when each line plays its role”, said the assistant captain. “It is difficult to find the perfect combination of lines, but it is crucial to have a line for any situation”.
The combination of goal scorers, playmakers, and defensive specialists on the roster has led to success that wasn’t as present last season.
There is no doubt that this weekend series at Niagara is critical. Look for the Orange to play with pace and toughness.
The Orange will face the Purple Eagles at 8:30 PM on Saturday night for game one. Game two is set to take place at 2:30 PM on Sunday at Dwyer Arena in Lewiston, NY.