Sports

Senior’s return to club hockey team fills ‘missing piece’

After missing the 2016-17 season, John Kumpf has three goals in five games.

John Kumpf had a strange feeling he would make a quick impact when he returned to the club hockey team on Nov. 3.

“Right before the game I told [senior defenseman Ryan] Dumbach that I was gonna score,” Kumpf said.

“I kind of laughed because I knew he was out of shape,” Dumbach said. “Everybody kind of figured it would take him a couple of games to get his feet under his legs.”

Kumpf didn’t play in the 2016-17 season and missed Temple’s first 13 games until he suited up for the game against Navy. Two minutes, eight seconds into the second period against the Midshipmen, Kumpf’s prediction came true. The senior forward and defenseman scored his first goal since his sophomore season. Temple ended up losing, 7-4.

“He went out there and scored, and everybody was really pumped for him and really happy,” Dumbach said. “Unfortunately we didn’t win, but it was definitely, I think, an encouraging thing for him to go out there and feel good right away about coming back.”

Kumpf, a management and information systems major from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has been playing hockey since he was in second grade with the Delco Phantoms in Aston, Pennsylvania. He chose to play hockey as a child because of his experiences going to Philadelphia Flyers games with his dad.

He didn’t play last season because he wanted to focus on his studies and ensure he could graduate on time. But he missed hockey.

As a sophomore in the 2015-16 season, Kumpf tallied three goals and two assists in 33 games as a center. Kumpf, who said he likes playing a physical brand of hockey, also led the team with 85 penalty minutes.

“I play with a lot of emotion,” Kumpf said. “I just needed to focus on my studies, and hockey was a lot of responsibility that was on top of me, just being shaken up by the college gameplay. It’s just real physical.”

Kumpf is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds, which makes him one of the smaller players on the ice at any given time.

“I still threw around the body like I was a big guy, like back when I was playing club hockey in high school,” Kumpf said.

Before this season, Dumbach, who serves as the club’s president, said he asked Kumpf to return to the team. Kumpf’s physicality brings a “different style of hockey,” Dumbach said.

After Dumbach reached out to Kumpf a second time during the season, Kumpf decided to return to the club because he found he had ample free time.

First-year coach Mark Spease believes Kumpf has already made a “really big impact” on the team in his five games since returning. He scored twice and had an assist in Temple’s 8-3 win against Elon University on Nov. 19. Temple had lost five of its past six games before its win against the Phoenix.

“He likes to take the body and if you watch us play, we don’t hit the body very often,” Spease said. “So getting somebody to get that aggression and the physical play going is a big spark for the team.”

“What we’ve been lacking this year is a little bit of body contact that we need along the boards, and I think bringing him in is really important and is really gonna take us to that next level,” said junior goaltender Zach Burkhardt, who is the club’s vice president. “He’s not afraid to go in the corners and not afraid to lay the body.”

Kumpf believes his role is slightly different than it was when he was a sophomore. He plays as both a defenseman and a forward instead of predominantly at center, and he’ll be one of the team’s veterans as it continues play into the spring semester.

“I’m definitely one of the older guys, and I just came on the team, so that was a little interesting,” Kumpf said. “But all the young guys are really cool, and I really hope that they look up to me and I can bring some energy and they can follow suit.”

Joe Edinger

can be reached at joseph.edinger@temple.edu
Or you can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeEd81
Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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