Although the Syracuse Orange were able to get Randy Staats back last weekend, it looks like the team will now lose Henry Schoonmaker for at least this week. Schoony has been huge for SU with Staats out of the lineup and provided some extra midfield scoring.
Next up is the Syracuse goalie situation. Coach Desko stated unequivocally that Bobby Wardwell will be the starter on Tuesday. Desko said the switch in net against UNC was more about finding a spark for the team than anything else, but he was certainly happy with the way Warren Hill played.
Another defensive note, there is a good chance Ralph D'Agastino will get his third start in a row. Desko said that D'Agastino's low stature makes him a little better suited to guard shorter, quicker attackmen.
The Hobart preview is tough due to the lack of video on this team. In its preseason poll, the NEC coaches picked Hobart to finish third in the league, but currently the team sits tied in first place in the conference standings. Two more conference games remain for the Statesmen as they attempt to make a move for the number one seed in the NEC Tournament. Earning the NEC AQ would give Hobart just its fifth birth to the division I Tournament and it would be the first time since 2004 in which Hobart made the national tournament. The Statesmen are 7-3 on the year, but have yet to get a win over a top 20 team. Three of the last four games for Hobart have resulted in overtime wins, so they play a lot of tight contests.
This will be the 101st game in a storied rivalry, which has Syracuse up 72-26-2. That means 8.25% of all games Syracuse has played in its history have been against Hobart, pretty crazy. Look, I understand that Hobart is several tiers below Syracuse, but this is a rivalry game and those have a tendency to get kind of crazy. Tuesday's game will be played in the Carrier Dome, and the last time SU hosted Hobart, back in 2013, the Orange fell 12-13. Three of the last five matchups between these two teams has resulted have resulted in a one goal game, so it is not one to look past.
And per usual....The Kraus-Simmons Trophy will be on the line.
Alex Love is the main offensive threat for Hobart. The fifth year senior has 19 goals and five assists but has turned the ball over 15 times this year. Love was the only player representing the Statesmen on the NEC preseason all-conference list. Senior Brendan Saylor played his first two seasons with the Maryland Terrapins and has 15 goals and three assists on the season. Matt Opsahl has had four multi-goal games this year and has totaled 11 goals and five assists.
With 17 points in 2014, Taylor Vanderbeek is the leading point scorer of any midfielder. Zach Reed is one of the most capable returners at the midfield position. The senior has started seven games this year and has six goals and six assists. Sean Donnelly has started the last two games for the Statesmen but has only played in seven games. He has three goals and six assists on the year. Simply put, Hobart does not have the depth at midfield to match up well with the Orange. Being able to put Tim Barber back in the midfield corps really increases the Syracuse midfield threat.
Andrew Spallanzani is the primary FOGO for Hobart. He is 63-81 but has had a pretty up and down season. Spallanzani does not take anywhere near the number of faceoffs that Ben Williams and Syracuse are used to taking. The reason for the low faceoff attempts per game is the lack of offensive production by Hobart.
Hobart's long-poles are very young with two freshmen and one sophomore. The defense is eighth in the country in man-down defense with a .727 penalty kill percentage. Freshman Bennett Moore has 12 groundballs and seven caused turnovers.
Fellow freshman Christopher Willman has snagged 20 groundballs and caused six turnovers while Sophomore Grant Soucy leads the Statesmen in caused turnovers with 9 and has 17 groundballs to boot.
The goaltender situation may be Hobart's strength. Jackson Brown is ninth in the country in save percentage, 14th in saves per game and 22nd in goals against average. He has a .576 save percentage and has made 114 saves. The freshman has had some pretty big save numbers, including 14 saves against Cornell and 18 at Georgetown. The defense gives up a lot of shots though, so if Syracuse needs to get as many shots on goal as possible and it could find success early.
The Orange will host the Hobart Statesmen Tuesday at 7:00 pm. The game can be seen on TWSC and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM. Of course you can also follow me @Orangelax for updates throughout the game.