Rookie and veteran skaters make moves in hockey’s opening weekend split

Mia Cadle, Reporter

Fresh off an opening-weekend split with Syracuse, Kent State’s hockey team wants to be more aggressive as it heads into its home opener Sunday against Lawrence Tech. 

“I think our main thing is focusing on being aggressive in our defensive zone to win more pucks,” coach Zach Nowak said. “The other one is building off of that: being able to put the pressure on the opposing team to win more pucks in the neutral zone.” 

The Flashes beat the Orange 6-2 on Friday but lost 5-2 on Saturday. Kent State and Syracuse are now 1-1 on the season. 

Kent State led the entirety of Friday’s game. Freshman right wing David Rankin scored three goals – two in the first period – and junior left wing Jack Kinsman scored two, his first of the season.

“We have a lot of talent in our room,” Kinsman said. “We knew we could be good. I felt like after our first game, that was how we expect to play every game. I think we just need to run with that feeling and keep that going into the season.”

Rankin said he is excited about what the freshman class has to offer.

“We are ready to play, and it gives me confidence moving forward,” Rankin said. “We have some work to do, details we need to fix, but we are hitting practice hard this week.” 

Hunter Hillebrecht scored Kent State’s other goal. 

On Saturday, JS Florek, who played last season on Kent State’s Division III team, gave the team a one-goal lead in the first period. Syracuse tied the game later in the period and led 3-2 after two periods. 

The Orange dominated the third period, scoring twice. Kent State’s other goal was scored by Zach Zwierecki, the team’s senior captain.  

“We have to look at this as one game,” Nowak said. “It’s a long season, and there were times when we were shaky. It is a really tough league, and it’s hard to get wins.

“If you aren’t playing your best hockey, any team can win on any night. So I definitely know that our guys expect more out of themselves. The coaching staff expects more out of everyone, and this is a learning experience for everyone.” 

Sunday’s game starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Kent State Ice Arena. Lawrence Tech, which went 20-12 last year, opens its season Friday against John Carroll.

“I’m super excited to get going here,” Kinsman said. “This will be my first game playing in Kent, so I’m super excited to get the fans in the arena.” 

Mia Cadle is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].