On a night in which Temple ice hockey was missing three of its regulars, it seemed as though the Owls played shorthanded throughout much of it.
Penalties and failure to take advantage on power play opportunities of its own ultimately played a large role in Temple’s 5-1 loss to Virginia Tech Friday night.
The Owls were without its top two scorers in junior forward Joe Pisko and freshman forward Jayson Marbach, as well as junior goalie Chris Mullen due to suspensions as a result in a late-game brawl at Rowan University last Saturday.
Pisko took the hardest hit of them all, receiving a six-game ban. Mullen and Marbach received suspensions of three games and one game, respectively. Sophomore goalie Eric Semborski started in place of Mullen.
“When you’re missing your two top goal scorers, it’s easy to point out not having them,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “It really hurt us. It was nice to see some guys step up and play well, but you can’t help but think about what would’ve been if they were in the lineup.”
After the Owls failed to capitalize on an early 5-on-3 power play opportunity, Virginia Tech took advantage of some Temple mistakes and netted back-to-back power play goals to take an early 2-0 lead.
Freshman forward Greg Malinowski put Temple on the board with a hard wrist shot from the slot early in the second period.
Malinowski proved his worth throughout with several close scoring chances, and provided a step-up presence on a night that required it.
“[Malinowski’s goal] was a nice shot right on the ice,” Roberts said. “It was a really hard shot, and he stepped up in [Pisko and Marbach’s] absence big time.”
“He’s a tremendous shot,” Roberts added. “He shoots harder than most players on the team and if we get him in the slot or in shooting position, we try to get him the puck.”
The Hokies would answer back, scoring with mere seconds remaining in the second period, and netting another one in the early going of the third period to put Temple in a 4-1 hole.
Virginia Tech would add another one later in the third off of a Semborski turnover that resulted in a quick put-back shot to cap the scoring.
“I don’t know [what happened],” senior defenseman Matt Benedetto said. “I was coming toward him but I guess he knew something I didn’t. I’m guessing he saw me but I don’t know. He was trying to make a play and I like when goalies do that, especially in a 4-1 game where we needed some production.”
“Semborski did what a goalie is supposed to do,” Roberts said. “He kept us in the game and he did his job tonight.”
When it was all said and done, the Owls had outshot their Hokie counterparts 41-39, but came away with one goal to show for it on a night dominated by special teams.
“We had a lot of shots but they weren’t great chances,” Benedetto said. “Special teams was our problem tonight. They scored on three power plays and we had no production. Once we go down 3-1 all because of penalties, that’s tough. It was just one of those nights.”
“Penalties killed us tonight,” Roberts said. “They were clearly the difference. When you take penalties you don’t need to take and the other team turns right around and puts the puck in the net, it’s a back breaker. We have to stay out of the [penalty box]. That’s our biggest hurdle right now and we’re not going to win hockey games unless we start doing it.”
The Owls will take on Rider University away Saturday in a Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association North divisional matchup. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com.