The ice hockey club lost to William Paterson on Saturday.
The ice hockey club team came up short in their final home game of the season on Saturday against William Paterson in a 3-2 shootout loss after a 6-2 loss the previous night to Rowan.
Both the Owls and Pioneers brought high intensity from the get-go in a physical game. With even scoring chances, the game was tied at zero until two minutes and 30 seconds remained on the clock in the first period when William Paterson netted a power-play goal. The first period ended with a 1-0 Pioneer lead with shots in favor of the Owls 15-14.
The second period opened and the Owls continued to keep up the intensity, something they struggled to keep all year.
“A whole new team showed up,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “I’m actually kind of speechless. This is the team we needed to see all year.”
The Owls faced a Pioneer team that is ranked No. 1 in the Northeast division in the American Collegiate Hockey Association and is expected to compete at nationals.
With 11:25 left in the second period, junior forward Chris Johnson put the Owls on the board off the sticks of teammates junior defenseman Matt Benedetto and junior forward Kurt Noce.
“We were just working it around in the triangle, got the shot off, it came to me, and I just buried it up high,” Johnson said.
William Paterson answered about six minutes later with 5:22 remaining in the second when senior defenseman Anthony Zipfel snuck one past Temple senior goalie Will Neifeld on the power play. With the period coming to a close, Johnson came up huge again for the Owls, scoring his second goal of the night, leaving the game tied at two going into the third.
There were no goals in the third as Neifeld came up with numerous big saves to keep the Owls in the game. After a five-minute overtime, a winner was still unnamed, leading up to a dramatic finish in a game-deciding shootout. Neifeld ended the game with 58 saves on 60 shots.
“I really can’t say enough about [Neifeld],” Roberts said. “In my opinion, he is definitely the number one goaltender in the country at this level. He makes a lot happen out there.”
“Every time [Neifeld] makes a save guys are getting up on the bench, they see it, and it just energizes the whole bench,” senior forward Taylor Lockhart added of Neifeld’s performance. “He electrifies you.”
In the shootout, both goalies kept the game into round five, when William Paterson’s senior forward Jeff Zamor netted the game winner.
Despite the loss, the Owls are still proud of the team that showed up to play and they are confident that this will give them the momentum to finish the season off right and make a dent in playoffs.
“We were in a similar situation last year. After a game [Roberts] sat us down and we aired everything out. This week at practice we did the same thing,” Lockhart said. “We came into the game saying we needed to get back to what we talked about. Last year, we carried that meeting straight through nationals. It’s a similar feeling right now.”
“If we can bring this kind of play in the next few weekends and through playoffs,” Roberts added. “I really think we can get back to nationals.”
Samantha Grinnan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.