With defense struggling, Mullen surges

Senior goalie has been an important asset this season.

Chris Mullen makes a save during the Owls’ 5-2 loss to Rowan on Friday night. Temple’s defense has given up high shot totals during early season competition. | Paul Klein TTN
Chris Mullen makes a save during the Owls’ 5-2 loss to Rowan on Friday night. Temple’s defense has given up high shot totals during early season competition. | Paul Klein TTN

Senior Chris Mullen has proven himself as a standout goalie this season.

“[Mullen’s] lights out,” coach Ryan Frain said. “He’s been standing on his head pretty much all year.”

In the first eight games Mullen has started this season for the Owls, he has a record of 4-4 with a goals against average of 3.78 and a save percentage of .900.

“I think I’ve been playing pretty well this year,” Mullen said. “Like I’ve said, there’s always room for improvement, but as far as my Temple career has gone I think this is one of my stronger years, and hopefully I can keep it up. There’re still a lot of games to be played.”

Giving up too many shots has been a problem for the Owls’ defense. In his first eight games between the pipes, Mullen has seen an average of 39.4 shots per game.

“As always, you would like to see [the shot total] reversed,” Mullen said. “With us having more shots than them, that’s the ideal situation. The fact that we are giving up so many shots needs to be addressed.”

“I told him that he has done a phenomenal job so far and to keep it up,” Frain said. “We’re going to fix our defensive zone situation and give [him] some help.”

Even though the team has been giving up a lot of shots, Mullen credited his defense for making the shots more manageable.

“For the most part, the shots I’m seeing have been pretty stoppable,” Mullen said. “I still can definitely improve, and I think that I am capable of playing better. But overall the ‘D’ has been playing well. They’re letting me see the puck, which is good. It’s hockey, we’re going to give up shots.”

After a 2-1 overtime loss  to Maryland where Mullen held his own, sophomore forward and team captain Greg Malinowski praised the goalie’s performance.

“He’s been playing unreal,” Malinowski said. “I mean, I feel bad for him that we keep losing for him. He’s our team basically, when it comes down to it.”

With the praise from his captain, Mullen handled the compliment with modesty.

“As far as being referred to as ‘the team,’ I’m just one part of the whole team,” Mullen said. “We can’t win games without everyone playing well out there. I just try and go out and play as well as I can every night. It feels good to know that they think I’m playing well, though and that they want to go out there and play well for me, just like I want to do the same for them.”

With Mullen being a senior, Frain said he believes the determination to win in his last season as an Owl has been Mullen’s motivation.

“He’s been there all year,” Frain said. “And he’s not really going anywhere. I kind of think that it has to do with the fact that he’s a senior and he wants to win.”

“I think that this being my last year has impacted my play slightly,” Mullen said. “Just because of how the previous seasons have ended, and I definitely don’t want to go out not making it to nationals, let alone not even making it to regionals.”

Having a goaltender to rely on as the last line of defense is crucial to any hockey team trying to make a run into the playoffs, and Frain has placed his confidence in Mullen.

“My hat’s off to him,” Frain said. “He’s been playing great, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Samuel Matthews can be reached at samuel.matthews @temple.edu or on Twitter@SJMatthews13.

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