The ice hockey club team focused on achieving three goals for the season: adjusting to the new coaching staff, winning games and playing with confidence.
After receiving the No. 9 ranking in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Southeast Division and gaining one of 10 spots in the regional playoffs, the Owls knew they had done something right. The Owls played their first postseason game against No. 4 Indiana last Friday night in Youngstown, Ohio.
Despite an 8-3 loss, senior forward Jerry Roberts said he was proud of how the team played.
“They were really that much better than us,” Roberts said. “They’re a seasoned team who has been there before. We got behind really early, but we played until the final whistle. “We’re building our program and they’re already established,” he continued. “We got to see what we are shooting for in the future.”
Roberts compared the playoff-eliminating
game to the first- and last-seeded teams playing each other in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“There’s always a chance, but, at the end of the day, you realize you can’t win,” Roberts said. “It was a great wake-up call for us.”
On Saturday, the Owls dropped their second regional game to No. 8 Maryland-Baltimore
County, 11-4. Even with a win, the Owls would not have advanced to the next round. Roberts said the teams played conservatively since they are likely to face each other in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, held this weekend at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, N.J.
“We focused on not giving them anything,” Roberts said. “We didn’t want to show them what we had.”
Roberts said they are feeling more confident going into the MACHA divisional playoffs since the team has played all their potential opponents at some point in the season.Junior defenseman Rob Hughes said the lack of regional playoff experience is what hurt the team against Indiana.
“They were all-around just a better team,” Hughes said. “They had the experience and we now know the level we have to bring [our game] up to.” The Owls are likely to play William Patterson or UMBC in the first round of play. Earlier in the season, the Owls split two games with the Pioneers, each with the same 5-2 result. Last month, they beat the Retrievers, 7-5.
Roberts said the familiarity with each of these teams should prove to work to an advantage for the Owls.
“We expect and know how to win against both teams,” he said. “We’re comfortable and we’ve already beaten these teams.” The Owls will compete in the MACHA playoffs with five other teams. The No. 1 and 2 teams receive a bye. Temple plays Friday against the No. 4 seed. The Owls need to win three games to be crowned league champions.
Melissa DiPento can be reached at email@example.com.