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Division II club hockey team provides more casual than competitive option

first_imgEntrenched in a game against Union College last season, Syracuse goalie Kailen Mahabir swung his blocker at an opposing player in frustration and earned a 10-minute trip to the penalty box.SU didn’t have a backup netminder, so Mahabir’s misconduct would have effectively ended the game for Syracuse’s Division II club hockey team.But Parker Finestone, creator of the club team and current head coach, had other plans. Finestone realized Syracuse would have to forfeit the game, so he threatened to call the commissioner’s office. He convinced the referee to change Mahabir’s major penalty into a double minor, allowing him to remain in the game.In 2017, when Finestone founded the Division II club hockey team, dirty plays like Mahabir’s were common, Finestone said. Even last year, the team often started games sluggishly after partying the night before, he said. Finestone’s vision for the club was fostering a competitive yet casual atmosphere and creating an in-between option for SU students interested in hockey but wanting a bit more freedom. Now in its third year of existence, he’s done just that, and current and former players alike praise Finestone for the culture he’s shaped both on the ice and off.“He really spearheaded the whole thing himself and created this from scratch,” said Connor Rotenberg, longtime friend and teammate of Finestone. “It’s the perfect club hockey experience for kids who want to keep playing, but don’t want the intensity of traveling every weekend.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter getting cut from the Division I club hockey team, Finestone looked for another option. Eventually, he decided to start one himself. He initially tried forming the team as a student organization, but that idea failed. The other option was to form the team independently and play in the Upstate New York Club Hockey League (UNYCHL), which Finestone chose despite feeling “discouraged,” he said.“I thought it wasn’t going to happen many times,” said Finestone.Karleigh Merritt-Henry | Digital Design EditorHe admitted the independence proved to be advantageous though, as he didn’t have to go through anyone to establish the organization. Finestone was his own boss.Through recruitment, the club was able to collect talented hockey players with experience in travel and Division I club hockey. Rotenberg, who graduated in the spring, was particularly accomplished, spending a year playing junior hockey and a couple more on the Division I team before joining the Division II team.Participation lacked in the first two seasons. Finestone recalled being stressed out and nervous early on because players wouldn’t show up or would wait until the last moment to alert him that they couldn’t make it.But there’s optimism in 2019 as Finestone has voluntarily taken the previously vacant role of head coach. Ten more people tried out, and Finestone could cut players for the first time. More participation, Finestone said, should lead to a better roster and more wins.This year’s squad required cuts for the first time and it’s the largest roster they’ve assembled: 25 players.“With a school the size of Syracuse, that team really can end up being the best in that league,” Rotenberg said.The club is led by captains Cam Hackett, Cam Kerry and Mahabir, who have each played an integral role in both the club’s formation and performance on the ice. Hackett, for instance, has been with the team since its inception and helped draft practice plans when the team didn’t have a coach.Though expectations this year are elevated, the team has lost its first four games of the season. Mahabir, whom Finestone called one of the most valuable players, will get an opportunity for redemption during the team’s next game against Union College on Nov. 2.“If awareness keeps going up and they keep getting kids,” Rotenberg said, “they should really be one of the better teams in that league and have a shot at winning it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 30, 2019 at 12:26 am Contact Cameron: cbmckeon@syr.edulast_img

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