A year after missing the American Collegiate Hockey Association regional tournament for the third consecutive season, the ice hockey club is once again vying for a Southeast playoff spot – despite its years-long struggle with penalties.
Last year, Temple finished the season with 407 penalty minutes. This year, the club has tallied 525 so far.
The Owls have an average of 19 minutes in the penalty per game, five minutes higher than last season.
The increase puts the Owls dead last in the Mid-Atlantic North division and third-worst among 42 teams in the Southeast division in division two hockey.
“It just means we’re undisciplined at times,” defenseman Chris Carnivale said. “A lot of our penalties tend to be misconducts or coincidentals, so they tend not to be too much of a detriment to us, but it’s definitely been an issue for us the last four or five seasons.”
Coach Ryan Frain has noticed the uptick in penalties, and – with mixed results, has tried to enforce discipline into his team.
“I guess going into any season you want to install discipline right from the [start] as soon as tryouts are over, but things happen in the heat of the games,” Frain said. “We’ve had conversations with some select players about keeping their mouths shut after the whistle [and] not talking to the ref after the penalty has been called. That leads you nowhere, but 10-minute misconducts and the referee is [going to] have a bad taste in his mouth the rest of the game.”
Frain said he benches his players for penalties, but the veterans also police themselves during the team’s intermissions.
“We would take shifts away from guys and if things got out of control,” Frain said. “I can remember at the beginning of the season when we sat one or two kids for a game or two and I think they kind of wised up.”
Frain said he thinks he sometimes does not provide the best example of staying cool under pressure.
“I find myself getting loud with the refs here and there,” Frain said. “Just given the situation of the games [with] calls that were missed or against us, so I’ve been trying to do a better job of practicing what I preach and that’s not yelling at the refs.”
A tactic that has been used frequently by opposing teams this season is to employ a physical game against the Owls, especially early in games.
“I know that a lot of teams know that we are a physical team as well and it might just come with the territory, but we don’t back down to anybody,” junior defenseman Patrick Hanrahan said. “But we need to be more disciplined in that sense. We need to make sure that when teams come out and play that physical style with us to try to goad into penalties we need to make sure that when we are taking our checks that we are making them clean [and] there are no dumb penalties after the whistle.”
As for the team’s increased penalty time, Hanrahan cited instances like the game against the University of Delaware on Dec. 12, 2014, when the team registered 79 penalty minutes.
“I would say that this year we have taken a lot of penalties that we should not have taken, but I feel like the bulk of those penalties have come in specific games and we need to limit that and limit any of the penalties that we’re taking to make sure that doesn’t cost us down the stretch,” Hanrahan said.
“I think so far where we’re at, we’ve definitely put ourselves in a good position to make the MACHA playoffs and working ourselves into position to make the regional playoffs and we don’t want to jeopardize that by taking any more penalties,” he added.
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr