The Temple ice hockey club kicked off its season with the 2004 Liberty Bell Invitational at the Class of 1923 Ice Rink at the University of Pennsylvania.
The tournament featured four area colleges, with opening round play taking place on Saturday and the championship and consolation game played on Sunday.
The Owls first game was a rematch of last year’s conference title game against Saint Joseph’s.
The two squads play in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference (DVCHC). Temple swept St. Joes in two games for the title last year.
The Owls lost the first game 8-2, but new coach Jamie Sabbatini didn’t seem troubled by defeat.
“This loss doesn’t dictate our season,” Sabbatini said. “This team has always gotten beat badly in this tournament and has come back to win the championship the last two years.”
If recent history means anything, Sabbatini could be right, considering the Owls are the two-time defending champs
He also said it “takes time to jell” which shouldn’t be a problem with this year’s squad. With a mix of players, the Owls are neither a young team nor an experienced one.
Sabbatini added that his goal every time his players take the ice is a “mistake free game” and “for my players to have the will to win.”
The Owls showed resilience in the second game on Sunday by beating La Salle in the consolation contest 8-2. Despite the lopsided win, it was a tough battle that tallied up 26 penalties between the teams. The Explorers were called for 18 penalties.
The championship was won by Penn who defeated Hawks 6-0 to capture the title.
Temple’s starting goalie Matt Lennertz played well against La Salle making 16 saves including an incredible stop on a breakaway. Forward Ron Latz had a goal and an assist and was awarded the game puck after the victory.
“I think the team played real well coming back from the loss yesterday,” Sabbatini said.
The win should be a lift as the Owls kick off the regular season Oct. 1 at Millersville. The season consists of 23 games, not including the playoffs, and goes through February.
When asked what to expect this year, captain Shawn Lynch said, “just give it a good shot at defending our championship. We’ve won it the past two years and I know that winning the third one is going to be the toughest.”
Not being an NCAA-sanctioned team, the club status means they don’t reap the same benefits as other sanctioned sports.
The hockey program is mostly funded by the students. Sabbatini says that the school has been helpful and playing on the team has been relatively inexpensive.
John Pirrone can be reached at email@example.com.