The ice hockey club took the ice against the University of Delaware on Sunday missing three of its top six scorers, yet a casual observant wouldn’t have known it as the Owls blitzed Delaware for seven goals as they downed the Blue Hens, 7-4.
Forwards Sean Nealis, Chris Johnson and Jayson Marbach were all held out of the lineup prior to game time in what was ultimately a coach’s decision.
“We needed our entire locker room to understand the importance of understanding our game-plan and we felt we dressed the players most capable of executing the game plan [Sunday],” coach Jerry Roberts said. “That’s what we based the decision off of. It doesn’t have anything to do with stats.”
Roberts also said he made the decision based off Saturday’s 6-4 win against Rider University.
Junior goalie Chris Mullen was back in net for the first time since Oct. 13 after missing time with a three-game suspension as well as a lower body injury that sidelined him for the next two.
Delaware’s junior forward Chris Lambrinakos promptly welcomed Mullen 25-seconds in by netting the game’s first goal. Owls’ freshman forward Greg Malinowski responded minutes later, knocking in a rebound on the power play to knot the score.
It was that kind of period Sunday, as both teams traded goals back and forth to make it a 3-3 score late in the period. Freshman forward Alan Fenton netted his first goal in a Temple uniform in the period and senior forward Kurt Noce added one to knot the score at three.
Malinowski then put Temple in front with one second remaining in the period on the power play once again.
“Noce and Malinowski stepped up,” Roberts said. “Noce has started providing offense during the past few weeks and Malinowski has really stepped into a leadership role. With guys being out, you need a guy to look to and he did that.”
The Owls then pulled away in what was a 26-shot second period with three unanswered tallies from Noce, senior defenseman Jordan Lawrence and freshman forward Dave Brewer.
The Owls found the net seven times and amassed a season-high 55 shots on net in total as opposed to Delaware’s 31 on a night in which Temple found itself shorthanded.
“It shows the depth we have on this team,” Noce said. “We have a lot of skilled guys that put in the work and there are guys that don’t always get into games and when they do they work hard and do what they can to stay in the lineup. It’s working well for our team.”
As has been a common theme thus far, Temple set the tone physically from the start, paving the way for the offensive burst later on. The physical play escalated mid-way through the second period when a scrum broke out in front of the net in which players from both sides traded punches.
“We felt they didn’t want to play quite as physical,” Roberts said. “Our driving the physical play really made them step back a little bit.”
“We were sending two guys in hard on the fore-check every time and they weren’t up for the physical play,” Noce said. “We could tell they were shying away from hits and that’s the game we like to play.
Playing with a Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association rival such as Delaware certainly played a part in Temple’s furious play throughout.
“Everyone gets hyped up against a team like this and we have a really tough schedule coming up,” Malinowski said. “We’re the underdogs for the next eight games so everyone’s getting hyped up and looking to lay someone out against teams like these.”
The Owls improved to 10-6 after the weekend sweep and will be looking to salvage a win against MACHA power Liberty Friday night. Liberty is unbeaten in American Collegiate Hockey Association play.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @daParent93.