Temple’s 8-4 loss to Montclair State University Oct. 11 epitomized the Owls’ season.
After an Owls’ goal cut Temple’s deficit to three in the third period, a puck bounced over Patrick Hanrahan’s stick, and the Red Hawks pounced on the senior defenseman’s turnover. Montclair State scored to stymie Temple’s comeback attempt and go up 7-3.
“I’ve played before,” coach Roman Bussetti said after the game. “You work, and you almost score and the other team comes down and gets a lucky bounce or lucky shot, and it just takes the wind right out of your sails.”
Similar mishaps have contributed to an unwelcome trend as the Owls (3-7) have surrendered more than six goals per game and eight goals or more in six of their 10 games.
Injuries have forced adjustments to the defensive lineup. Junior defenseman John Anthony is out for the season with a torn labrum and sophomore defenseman Ryan Dumbach is out six weeks with a fractured hand.
“It’s just an all-around lack of hustle,” Bussetti said. “I feel like there’s been three or four games now where we’ve gotten down a couple goals and kind of stopped playing all together.”
Temple’s defense has appeared out of sync at times, as the Owls have tried adapting to Bussetti’s system in his first year as coach. The growing pains have led to lapses in judgment, leaving players out of position.
“A lot of it just has to do with us leaving a man or two open at the wrong times,” Dumbach said. “That’s really hurting us because that guy that’s left wide open is usually the one that’s capitalizing on us by scoring.”
Offensively, the Owls are averaging 3.4 per game. Senior forward Stephen Kennedy had nine goals and seven assists, according to the most recent statistics made available Friday.
“We’re going to try and score as much as we can,” sophomore left wing Eric Graham said. “We’re not going to play to win a game by less goals.”
The defensive troubles have contributed to the workload of sophomore goalie Scott Salamon. This season, Salamon has a 2-4 record and has saved 84.5 percent of the shots he’s faced. Last season, he had a 7-2 record and 90.7 save percentage.
Temple’s backup goalie, junior Hayden Richards, has seen time in place of Salamon, who is battling a concussion.
“Personally, I’ve played hockey a long time and been on some really bad teams, and you just have to keep battling,” Richards said. “It’s something you get used to. Everyone’s trying to improve their game each time you’re out on the ice, and it doesn’t really matter what the score is. You’re just trying to stop the next play.”
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.