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Students prepare for thrilling NHL season

by Brendan Kaufman, Staff Writer

Courtesy of NHL Media

The 2023-2024 NHL season is finally here, as the first puck drop took place with the Predators and Lightning opening the season on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Many questions await for this year as the season kicks off. Which teams will succeed and which teams will falter? Who will be this year’s Stanley Cup Champions? Will the Vegas Golden Knights repeat as champs, or will a new team rise to the occasion?

Various students on campus are rooting for different teams to rise up to the challenge and become Stanley Cup champions, while others are hoping for the downfall of a few teams that have had it too good for too long. 

Freshman broadcasting major Mike Voltaggio hopes that the New York Rangers are the team to take that step forward.

“I’ve been a Rangers fan my whole entire life, ever since I was 10 years old. Last season, I thought we played pretty well. We’ve got a young team and we showed a lot of promise. Personally, I think we’re due for a great season this year. I hope the Bruins are terrible this year though. People are great, can’t stand their sports teams,” Voltaggio said.

Not everyone on Long Island is a fan of New York teams however, as senior social work major Beck Farrell is rooting for teams near the coasts.

“I’m a Seattle Kraken fan. Our team did pretty well last season and we’re definitely an underdog. The Kraken get too much hate for being so new but they have some sick uniforms and a super sick name. The Lightning too, actually. They did well last season, though I don’t know how good they’ll be this season since their goalie got surgery,” Farrell said.

Expectations are set fairly high for all of these squads, as all three were playoff teams last season with the Rangers and Lightning getting knocked out early, while the Kraken managed to make it to the second round of the playoffs before their exit.

Farrell sees a few issues with the Kraken that might cause a slow start to their season.

“I think we’re probably going to start out slow this season. They’re gonna lose their first few games. I hate to say it, but the start is a bit rough for them this season. But we’ll be back. The Kraken will definitely be back,” she said.

On the other hand, Voltaggio expects the Rangers to have a lot of success throughout the season.

“I feel the team is due for a deep playoff run this season like they did a few seasons ago. We have a lot of promise, especially with the younger guys on our roster. I’m really hoping that we can duplicate, or even do better than we did when he had that deep run and if everything goes to plan, I think that will happen,” he said.

With both the Islanders and the Rangers making their home here in New York, fans on the island will be looking to watch their favorite teams up close.

Voltaggio is hopeful to attend a few Rangers games in person during the season but he expects to spend most of the season on his couch.

“I don’t know if I’ll end up being at any Rangers games this season. It mostly comes down to what my boys want to do back home. I have one friend who’s a huge hockey fan and will try to go to any game he possibly can, so if he’s going to a game I’ll probably try to tag along with him. But for now, I’ll be mostly enjoying the games from the comfort of my couch,” he said.

Not every student can watch their team so easily, however, as Farrell talks about a problem that comes with rooting for a team out of state.

“If the Kraken play the Islanders then I will probably go to those games but outside of that, I’m not following the Kraken around the country. I would gladly go to Seattle for them or really anything but it’s not as easy as just going to Seattle whenever,” she said.

The Vegas Golden Knights were able to win the Stanley Cup in five games last season against the Florida Panthers. Despite their dominant run last season, they are not the favorites for the cup this season on campus. Farrell thinks the cup will return to a familiar home.

“The Stanley Cup this year is not going to the Rangers, that’s for sure. I don’t think either New York team wins the cup this season. I think the Lightning are going to win it all. I don’t know who they’re going to meet in the finals but I’m pretty sure they’ll be the winner this season,” she said.

Voltaggio has a much more unexpected pick for the Stanley Cup champion.

“I want this to be a Rangers cup season, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. I actually think that the Minnesota Wild are a sneaky pick for the Stanley Cup. I think their goaltending is going to carry them to a Cup and even though I want the Rangers to make it, I’m betting it’s the Wild’s year this season,” he said.

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