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After winning the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association’s regular season with a record of 13-1-1 in the 2019-20 season, the Syracuse roller hockey team earned an automatic bid for nationals.
The team looked forward to their chance to play for a national championship, although SU lost to Oswego in the semi-finals of the regional tournament. But the pandemic canceled the national tournament and their season ended abruptly.
We awaited our bid to submit submissions, said sophomore and assistant captain Ethan Clearfield. And then the pandemic shut it down, and unfortunately, there’s less than a 1% chance we can play in citizenship this year.
The team has not played a single game since the pandemic. SU grants travel exemptions to NCAA teams, but club teams are bound by the university’s Stay Safe Pledge and cannot travel outside of central New York. This was devastating for the players, Clearfield said, as they had momentum from last season and felt they had a chance to win the division again.
With the team unable to compete, this year the players have been trying to build for the future and make a run at the 2022 national championship.
The roller hockey team trains all season. It was not allowed to practice in the fall because it is a risky sport, but it has been practiced this spring at the Barnes Center at The Arch. The players practice when they can and work to build their chemistry outside the rink by eating out and hanging out in a safe manner during the pandemic, Clearfield said.
This semester, we can have up to 12 people on the rink, said second-defender Brian Belluscio. Last semester there were only four, which made it very difficult to run a practice.
Without knowing when it will play the next game, the team is working with new players to improve for next season. The team’s freshmen still haven’t had a chance to compete against other schools in a Syracuse roll-top jersey.
Freshman Dan Carroll played hockey when he was in high school, and he decided to join the roller hockey team, even though he knew he wouldn’t be competing. Carroll wanted to stick around because he didn’t always think he would play on a club team in college.
I’m looking forward to finally playing a game with them after a year of practice, Carroll said.
Different players left the team between the fall and spring semester for a variety of reasons, including Greek life, Carroll said.
While it hasn’t been able to have a normal season, the team is preparing in every possible way, with the ambition to continue the success it had prior to the pandemic.
Next year we want to win the national championship, and I believe that with the mix of experienced players and the evolving younger guys, we really have a chance, said Belluscio.
Syracuse plans to resume in-person classes this fall, and Belluscio is optimistic that the team can also resume gameplay. The team will bring back a mix of veterans and younger players, including juniors Dante Giugliano and Evan Baum and sophomores Belluscio and Blake Taub. Three players also graduate, including Clearfield, captain Marc Orlin and Jamie Kreinces.
Clearfield’s ultimate goal for the team is to ensure that it continues its success through the pandemic and the following semester.
As a recruiting chair at my previous college (Miami, Ohio), I didn’t see the program fold until two years after graduation, Clearfield said. So I would like to leave this program where it can continue to thrive.
For now, the Syracuse roller hockey team will continue to prepare for the next season, both on and off the track. The team has big ambitions for the fall, including defeating their rival Endicott and winning a national championship.
Published May 3, 2021 at 10:00 PM
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