By Zoe Jurmann
SYRACUSE, NY– This weekend the Syracuse Orange (5-10-1) are set to take on the University of Rhode Island Rams (9-4-1) before heading into a week-long Thanksgiving break.
Both teams are coming off of split weekend series, with URI having faced ESCHL foe Drexel, and the Orange splitting the weekend between Villanova, whom they beat, and The College of New Jersey.
Head Coach Chris Timmons is expecting a fast-paced game against URI. The Rams are known for their quick transitions and ability to control the game, which is something the Orange have been struggling with all season.
“They normally come out hard and play a quick transition game so we need to match the intensity, maintain possession to control the pace of the game, and limit our mistakes,” explained Timmons. “ They have solid depth in terms of players who can put the puck in the net so we need to limit their chances as much as we can and play tight defensively.”
Forward Tony Larkin has played some of his best games against the Rams. He believes that having his family in the stands last season really helped him play to his full potential, which is something Larkin has struggled with this season.
Larkin, whose production has been on a steady incline since the start of the season, has been moved around the lineup and wasn’t playing very consistently. Heading towards Thanksgiving break, he believes that being placed lower in the lineup was the wake-up call he needed in order to produce more.
“I think the jumping around was a real boost for me, honestly. I didn’t love my start to the season, and I also didn’t love moving around in the lineup, so I definitely wanted to string some consistent games together, and I think I’ve done a better job at that the past few games. Hopefully, if my play is consistent enough the results will follow,” said the sophomore.
With the style of play that the Rams have, scoring and production from all four lines are vital to the Orange’s success this weekend. This season the coaches have made sure that all lines that are on the ice have the ability to produce and create solid chemistry.
Timmons went on to say, “I think the two factors that come with lines being productive are chemistry and roles. I think we shifted our focus from loading up on lines to having more balance amongst the 4 and I think the effort from those 4 lines has helped with production.”
With a season that seemed like it was off to a great start seeming to fall flat, practice and keeping their chins up has been the consistent message in the locker room. If the team doesn’t compete in practice, then they’ll fall flat on the ice, explained Larkin.
“Practices have been about competing. You show up and you compete. If we compete with each other in practice, we’ll compete in our games. And we know when we show up we can compete with the best teams in our league. It’s just about doing it,” said Larkin. “We always say we have to stick to our systems and play our game and we’ll be alright— obviously we want to stick to that, but it’s time we get some more urgency and start playing with a little bit of fire under our asses.”
The series against the Rams is the last for the Orange before a much-needed Thanksgiving break. The Orange are hoping to go into the break on a high note and are focusing on taking both wins this weekend.
You can catch the Orange on Friday at 7 PM, and on Saturday at 2 PM as they take on URI at the Tennity Ice Pavilion. Friday’s game is military appreciation night for the Orange, as we salute our veterans and all those who protect our nation every day. Saturday's matinee will be followed by a sled hockey exhibition as your Syracuse Orange take on the CNY Flyers, a local sled hockey team. You can catch both games on the Syracuse Hockey Network.