Syracuse head coach John Desko announced earlier today that defenseman Nick Mellen is out for the entire 2017 season and will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
Questions about Mellen’s status for the 2017 season were up in the air as he missed both scrimmages for the Orange, as well as last week’s season-opening win over Siena. He was doubtful to play in Saturday’s tilt with Albany.
Desko said during media ops today that the All-American defenseman could have played through the injury during the regular season, but decided it wasn’t worth it. All intentions appear to be Mellen taking a medical redshirt this year. If he does that, he will be a redshirt-sophomore in 2018.
With the loss of Mellen, Syracuse will lose all three starting defensemen from a year ago, along with Brandon Mullins and Jay McDermott, who have graduated. Filling in are senior Scott Firman, a converted long-stick midfielder, redshirt sophomore Marcus Cunningham, who made one start last year against Cornell for Mellen, and sophomore Tyson Bomberry. Add freshman Nick DiPietro in the mix as well at close defense, along with long poles Austin Fusco, Laz Chavez, and Jonah Swigart. Andrew Helmer should also see some playing time at either close or LSM.
Inexperience is the big concern on defense, with only Firman and Fusco seeing regular playing time last season at the LSM spot. But once Mellen returns fully healthy next year, he’ll replace Firman and that defensive unit will have hopefully two years of being a unit together. Mellen being out for the season was hinted before the start of the season in our College Crossecast preview of the ACC.
Additionally, Desko announced that redshirt junior attackman J.T. Forkin will also undergo season-ending surgery. Forkin was a reserve attackman two years ago with the Orange, before transferring to play at Nassau Community College last season.
Sophomore attackman/midfielder Henry Grass is also not on the team due to academics and limited opportunities for playing time, per Desko. Grass transferred from Johns Hopkins last year. Grass joins Cole O’Brien and Alec Orazietti as players that are no longer with the Orange.