Two games. Six periods. Eleven power plays. Zero goals. The team’s early season issues with the power play continued last weekend and it cost the Owls two more games.
“We’re five games into the season and we still haven’t scored on the man advantage,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “It’s huge because the game comes down to power plays. It’s crippling us right now.”
The Owls lost their third straight game of the young season to Rowan 4-1, then lost to Montclair State 2-1 last weekend. All four losses of the streak have come on the road against quality opponents but Temple’s record now stands at 1-4.
The Cherry and White returned from two losses in Florida the previous weekend, looking to bounce back against conference foe Rowan. But they were out worked and out scored from the very beginning.
“We were outworked. That’s the bottom line. They were willing to work harder than us and we don’t tolerate that here,” Roberts said.
Junior forward Sean Nealis scored the lone goal for the Owls, his first of the season and senior goaltender Will Neifeld stopped 31 of 35 shots.
The teams will meet again in February for a Temple home game.
On Saturday the team seemed hungrier, but Montclair State is no cupcake on the schedule. They finished the season last year ranked in the top 20 in the nation. It was a tale of two halves as Montclair State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 30 minutes. The effort and execution were better in the second half as senior forward George Rutter added his third goal of the season to cut the lead to one.
With the game close, the team went into a furious rush to tie the game in the third. On two occasions the puck even hit the post in the final minutes but it wasn’t enough for the Owls as they failed to get over the hump and tie the game.
“We just ran out of time there at the end,” Roberts said. “We have to learn how to play hard for 60 minutes instead of 40.”
Neifeld stopped 37 of 39 shots he faced. But the offense struggled again, failing to score more than one goal for the third straight game. Going 0-6 in one game and 0-5 in the other on the power play is the main reason.
“It’s hard and frustrating but the positive way we look at it is that we’re getting these things worked out early in the season rather than later,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to not get too low on the lows and too high on the highs and we feel like we’re making progress but turning around our power play will be huge.”
The common mentality is that once the first one goes in, it’ll be a domino effect and things will start to turn around and loosen up. The Owls will have a chance to end the losing streak next weekend against a tough Siena team. Siena has been to nationals nine out of the last ten years.
“They’re always a good team so it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re excited and anxious to get things turned around,” Roberts said.
Siena is 1-0-1 so far on the year through two games. They split two games against University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 1-1 and 5-3. Temple and Siena will play on back to back nights at Siena.
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.