When the Owls face off against rival University of Maryland on Sept. 21, it will mark the beginning of the Ryan Frain era as the head coach of Temple ice hockey.
Frain has focused on speed, stamina and an up-tempo, hard-hitting style of play.
“I’m actually really impressed with how everyone is gelling together,” senior goaltender Chris Mullen said. “We’ve got a lot of new kids and they’re fitting in the lineup real well. We have a couple of returners playing with some new guys, and I was pretty impressed with how well they got along together. They just seemed to know where each other were on the ice at all times.”
However, when transitioning to a new style of play, it’s expected to have some lag. Linemates who have never played together often need time to get used to each other and develop team chemistry. Senior forward Joe Pisko is aware of that.
“It’s been a pretty good transition so far,” Pisko said. “Everybody is looking pretty good, all things considered, but it’s definitely a work in progress.”
Sophomore forward Greg Malinowski said he’s been pleasantly surprised at the progress the team has already made in developing chemistry in the early parts of the season.
“We do have a few line combinations together,” Malinowski said. “And surprisingly, probably three out of the four lines look like they’ve been playing together for a while. Everyone has been gelling pretty well and we can only get better, so I think we’re actually doing pretty well so far.”
Temple will need to have that chemistry because next week’s game is more than just a typical season opener. A new rivalry has developed between the Owls and Terrapins, and it would not be a surprise if it turns out to be an intense contest. Last year, Temple’s loss to Maryland knocked the Owls out of playoff contention.
“We were meant to lose that game from the get go,” Malinowski said. “We got there really late, we started warm-ups really late. It just wasn’t really destined to win against them.”
Maryland ended up placing in front of the Owls for the final playoff spot in Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey regional playoffs, and went on to make a run to nationals, something that the Owls would like to achieve this year.
“We want to get back at them for taking our spot in regionals,” Mullen said. “And they ultimately got to nationals, which is our goal. They’re definitely a good team but there’s no reason why we can’t skate with them.”
Malinowski was not quite as subtle.
“I hate them,” Malinowski said. “They’re not really a skilled team, they’re just a real chippy team.”
When asked if revenge for last year was on his mind, Malinowski said, “Oh, yeah.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at email@example.com.