When Matt Krulikowski sat in the stands of Pittsburgh’s Alpha Ice Complex on Oct. 2, he saw the preaching of first-year coach Roman Bussetti come to fruition.
The junior forward, who was resting an upper body injury sustained Sept. 25 against Drexel, noticed the Owls looked sluggish in the first two periods but seemed to find a spark after notching a pair of goals in second period’s final minutes.
The effort transferred into the third period for the Owls, as they scored three goals to send the game into overtime, where they defeated the University of Pittsburgh 6-5.
“The reason we did that was because we were playing the systems Bussetti’s been trying to nail into us since day one,” Krulikowski said. “We’re making the right plays, sometimes the simple passes getting it down the ice, not trying to make that stretch pass unless it was right there.”
Four weeks into the season the Owls (2-5) are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association Conference, trailing Towson University, Drexel and Penn State Berks by five, two and two points, respective.
Through five games, the team is satisfied with its first-year coach’s start.
“I think it’s going well,” sophomore forward Patrick Devlin said. “I can learn a lot more from a different coach and I think [Bussetti’s] bringing positive energy to the team and we’re building together.”
Bussetti’s coaching career behind the Owls’ bench started with a 4-0 shutout loss against the University Delaware in a preseason game Sept. 18.
The Owls faced Drexel the following weekend and lost 8-3. Bussetti’s squad rebounded two days later with a 2-1 win against Villanova Sept. 27 and then split a pair of games with Pittsburgh.
Bussetti’s new philosophy forces his players to alter their technique from the playing style of last year’s coach Ryan Frain. Frain focused on an up-tempo pace that benefited the individual player. Bussetti is slowing the game down for players this season by stressing fundamentals and teamwork.
“It’s different than I’ve ever experienced,” senior forward Stephen Kennedy said. “It’s just different systems. We just have to start working on systems and building team chemistry. We have to work with the basics and build an identity for our team before we get into skills.”
The club has struggled to score this year, as the Owls have 13 goals compared to 26 for their opponents.
Temple has also logged 156 penalty minutes, No. 1 in the ECHA, which is concerning to sophomore forward Joey Powell.
“At this level, one little mistake leads to a goal that the other team is ready to capitalize with,” sophomore forward Joey Powell said. “I think, with the penalty minutes, the team is a little rougher, and we’re still trying to adjust. The refs have been inconsistent, so every game we have to figure out what is going to be called and what’s not and be ready to play.”
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.