Save for the handful of over-hyped Syracuse fans who expected this year’s highly touted freshmen class to instantly bring Magic Johnson’s Showtime offense to The Dome, every Syracuse and Vermont fan, whether they lean toward the “glass half-full” or “glass half-empty” side of life, could easily find support for their dreams or fears in Saturday’s season opener.
The game was up for grabs as Syracuse and Vermont ended the 3rd quarter tied at five, but the Orangemen sharpened their offense and tightened their defense just enough to win the 4th quarter and edge the Catamounts 7-5. Jackson Birtwistle scored the game winner 1:19 in the quarter, with Owen Hiltz adding an insurance marker halfway through.
Birtwistle led Syracuse with two goals. Finn Thomson scored once and added two assists. Alex Simmons scored once and assisted once. Joey Spallina and Sam Olexo had the other goals. Mark Will made 13 saves in the win.
Jonas Hunter led the Catamounts with a pair of goals. David Closterman had a goal and an assist and Brock Haley and Derek Marsilio had one goal each. Matt Shaffer made 16 saves but took the loss.
If you lean toward the brighter side of life, you have to be pretty happy with your team’s defense and goalie play. On the other hand, if you lean doom and gloom – you’re not going to be satisfied with your team’s offensive output. But because it was only opening weekend, it will be a few weeks before we know if this was a good win/good loss situation or if both teams are going to struggle.
Syracuse is next in action this Friday, February 10 when they host UAlbany at 6 p.m. Vermont is at home Saturday hosting Boston University at noon.