The ice hockey team’s 11-0 victory over St. Joseph’s last Friday was a day of firsts for a handful of Owls.
In what was Temple’s first shutout victory of the season, freshmen defensemen Tyler Benton and Matt Krulikowski both netted their first career goals and junior goaltender Brendan Hallmark recorded a shutout in his first career game.
For Hallmark, he was going to have his chance to prove his talents well in advance of last Saturday’s game.
“I kind of gave him a two-week notice,” coach Ryan Frain said. “I told him, ‘Hey, guess what? You’re going against [St. Joe’s]. So get yourself mentally prepared and come ready to play.’”
The two-week heads up before getting the nod was something Hallmark said he appreciated.
“Of course the longer you have, the better it is,” Hallmark said. “But I just went through a normal routine and tried to keep it simple, and I guess it worked. I was very excited and grateful for the opportunity.”
Hallmark admitted that before the game, he was a bit nervous.
“But once I got into the game that was the way to just focus on the game, and the technical aspect of the game got better as I played,” Hallmark said.
“He looked sharp tonight,” Frain said. “He showed up to the rink and you could tell that he was ready to go. I was very proud of the way that Hallmark played tonight. He was sharp from start to finish and he had an awesome game.”
Hallmark, though, gave credit to his teammates.
“The guys put up a good effort,” Hallmark said. “It was a good team effort, so they made it easy for me.”
In scoring his first career goal, Benton, a grinder-type of player from Sewell, N.J., scored in a manner that was consistent with his style of play.
“He’s a gritty player,” Frain said. “He goes out there, he knows his role, he gets the puck in deep and he throws his body around. He’s a gritty player and he scored a gritty goal. Going right to the net, the puck bounced in front of him and he just slammed it home.”
“I was very excited,” Benton said. “It was a great experience for me. The ‘D’ really played well tonight and helped me get the goal.”
Krulikowski, known affectionately as “Kurly” by his teammates, scored his first career goal in a more peculiar fashion. After getting the puck at the point, Krulikowski fired the puck on net and had it deflect off of the back side of a Hawks player before rolling right into the net.
Frain, however, saw it as a goal the Owls should try to set up more often.
“What we’ve been preaching is get the puck up to the ‘D’ men,” Frain said. “Especially if the opposing teams’ wingers are dropping really low, once we gain possession, just throw it up to the point and have our defensemen throw it on net and crash and see what happens.”
“It feels great to get the first one on there,” Krulikowski said on scoring his first career goal. “So hopefully now that I’ve got the monkey off of my back, I’ll be able to pop in a couple more before the end of the year.”
“Kurly has been playing well,” Frain said. “He’s a big body, he knows his role. He keeps it simple and doesn’t try to out think himself. He’s going to be playing a lot more minutes if he keeps this up.”
Even though the goal was off of a very fortuitous deflection, all that matters for Krulikowski is that it landed in the goal.
“I don’t care how the puck goes in,” Krulikowski said with a chuckle.
“A goal is a goal, to be honest with you,” Frain said. “I know it went off of a St. Joe’s player’s rear end and then kind of rolled in the net, but hey, it doesn’t matter. A goal is a goal, and nobody can really tell if it’s pretty or not if it’s on the score sheet.”
In a day of firsts, Frain sees this as a good problem to have.
“We have a lot of depth,” Frain said. “Everyone wants to play and it’s making my job a lot harder when guys like Hallmark, Benton and Krulikowski work their asses off when they actually get the chance, and then actually put up some numbers, too. But it’s a good problem for me to have.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@SJMatthews13.