Published on October 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Hard worker. That’s been the one universal term that Morgan Blank’s coaches have used to describe the freshman forward. “Morgan is one of the hardest working players that I have ever coached,” Blank’s former Pittsburgh Penguins Elite coach Kate Binnie said in an email to The Daily Orange. “She put in relentless hours at the gym getting stronger and faster.”The work Blank has put in seems to have paid off as the Fort Mitchell, Ky. native is now a freshman playing Division I ice hockey at Syracuse. Kentucky, of course, is better known for its fried chicken than its development of hockey players. But, surprisingly, Blank grew up in a hockey family.“My older brother and twin brother both played,” Blank said.Two boys playing youth hockey is not that strange — even if they are playing in Kentucky. But a small southern girl like Blank getting into this winter sport was far from normal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“My twin brother during tryouts one year didn’t want to try out,” Blank said. “And I’m like, ‘I’ll try out.’ And he then said, ‘Girls don’t play hockey.’”That drive that pushed Blank to prove her brother wrong is the same drive that has fueled her these past few years. It’s the same drive that has earned her playing time as a freshman on a team with 12 other forwards.“She’ll play,” Flanagan said. “She’ll definitely get some ice time.”It may not be a starting role, but it’s certainly an opportunity, and Blank has shown throughout her career that all she needs is an opportunity. She made the most out of that a year ago when her brother decided to not try out. She made the most of her spot on Binnie’s Penguins Elite squad, scoring 45 points on 24 goals and 21 assists during her senior year. And she’s making the most out of this one so far.“(Blank’s) an incredibly great kid. She’s smiling all the time, and brings an incredibly great component to our locker room,” Flanagan said. “I’m pleasantly surprised with what she’s done in practice so far.”Flangan even went as far as to compare the young Blank to senior captain Margot Scharfe, who has played in every game of her SU career and was named to the All-College Hockey America second team.Blank and Scharfe are both primarily defensive forwards who have the ability to score when necessary.“They’re both smart players, aggressive and work hard,” Flanagan said.Binnie said that this past year, Blank has played for a men’s team as well as the Penguins. Every weekend, she would travel four hours to practice with the Penguins and one hour to practice with the men’s team.“(Blank) always gives 100 percent. She never takes a game, period, or even a shift off,” Binnie said. “She will outwork anyone on the ice.” Comments
The roster spread the points evenly throughout the high-scoring show, with junior forward Bennie Boatwright adding 18 points and redshirt junior Derryck Thornton dropping an additional 12 points. In total, seven Trojans scored on the night, with only two players remaining silent. The game was over by halftime, as the Trojans exploded to a 47-33 lead and completely locked down the Cougars’ offense. Although the home team bounced back in the second half, outscoring the Trojans 51-46 on the back of sharpshooting from 3-point range by junior point guard Ahmed Ali, it wasn’t enough to chip away at the dominant USC lead. With Rakocevic wreaking havoc throughout the paint, the Cougar defense was forced to collapse around the forward, creating open space for the Trojans to move the ball. When the kick-out came, junior guard Jonah Mathews was ready from 3-point range. Mathews’ trademark quick-release shot was deadly from behind the arc, and although he hardly took a dribble on the night, Mathews finished 6-for-7 from long range with 20 points. Junior forward Nick Rakocevic maneuvers a defender to get to the basket against UCLA Jan. 19 at Galen Center. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) The win in Pullman will help the Trojans begin to balance their road record; they had formerly won only a single game outside of Galen Center while dropping seven losses. The team remains ranked at No. 2 in the conference, but three Pac-12 teams — USC, Oregon State and Arizona State — are all evenly matched at 6-3 in conference play. Washington remains on top and undefeated in the conference after beating both USC and UCLA this week. After dropping the first game of its Pacific Northwest series, the men’s basketball team bounced back to solidly route the Washington State Cougars in a 93-84 win Saturday night. Saturday was another explosive night for junior forward Nick Rakocevic, who led the team with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Rakocevic bullied his way to the rim throughout the night, out-muscling the Cougars despite their comparable size in the post. On a missed free throw in the first half, he bounded after his own shot and sank a layup in a single step. Heading into the weekend, the team knew that the game against Washington State was a must-win — as one of the bottom two teams with only one conference win to their name, the Cougars represented a guaranteed win that could gauge the Trojans’ ability to finish games. With this hurdle neatly accomplished through a blowout victory, the team will now turn its attention to visits from Utah and Colorado this week.