Ryan Frain made a big change two weekends ago.
The first-year head coach paired forward Stephen Kennedy and senior forward Joe Pisko with junior forward Pat Golden.
While on the ice together in their first two games as a line against Rider and Monmouth, the line combined for six goals.
“I think it’s going well,” Golden said. “Last game we had three goals, [the Monmouth] game we had three goals. We have nice chemistry.”
“I like it a lot,” Kennedy said. “We’re moving the puck well. I like that we seem to have a better cycle between me, Pisko and Golden, and I like the way they move the puck around.”
With different playing styles, the three complement each other on the ice. While Kennedy and Pisko are skill players with the finesse to weave in and out of the opposing team’s defense, Golden is the playmaker that finds his teammates on the ice and sets them up for goals.
Kennedy is the sniper. He by far leads the team in goals with 23. The next closest Owl is sophomore forward Greg Malinowski with six. Golden, on the other hand, is the grinder. His physical style of play allows his line mates to get the puck and enables them to score.
“I think [the line] is pretty good,” Golden said. “I kind of get in there and bang bodies and distract people, and [Kennedy and Pisko] get open where I can feed them the puck. It works pretty well. And at the same time, I feel comfortable shooting the puck.”
Golden’s comfort in shooting has been evident since pairing up with Pisko and Kennedy. In his first two games with the line, Golden has scored two goals. He scored just one goal in the 15 games that preceded the line change.
“They just work well together,” Frain said. “And that’s kind of what I’ve been going with all year. Once I feel a line or two is stagnate, I’ll mix the lines up, and then once I see a line or two that’s working, I’m going to keep it definitely until I see that stagnate nature again.”
Being stagnate was not the case for the switch from Kennedy’s previous forward line of himself, junior Brady O’Donnell and sophomore Cody Vassa. In fact, it was the opposite.
Kennedy, O’Donnell and Vassa have scored 33 of the team’s 61 goals this season. That’s 54 percent of the Owls total goals for the year so far. Frain said a change had to be made to bring more balance to the four forward lines and to help the team score more goals.
“It was kind of like that one line was 80 to 90 percent of the offense,” Frain said. “And now there’s a lot more balance. We needed to mix the lines up a little bit to see if we could get some of these other guys going in the production column, so that was mainly the reason for that.”
Frain also has no problems with Kennedy’s new line.
“As of right now, I have no complaints about that line at all,” Frain said. “They’re getting pucks in deep, Golden is in there bumping and grinding and getting pucks to Pisko, and Pisko is finding Kennedy. It’s working well and I’m proud of these guys and the way they’re working.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SJMatthews13.