Fresh off their best season in school history, the men’s ice hockey club team got back to work last week focused on proving last year’s trip to nationals was no fluke.
“We showed up in San Jose a young team who was overwhelmed by the excitement of making it that far. After finishing, we realized that we have the potential to compete at that level,” coach Jerry Roberts, said.
The third-year head coach admitted that getting back to that point while having to replace leading scorer and record holder Ryan Frain could be tough but felt comfortable with his lineup coming in to the season opener against conference foe Rider.
It was a sloppy start though for the Owls as they racked up nearly as many penalty minutes as shots on goal. Roberts blamed the out of sync performance and 24 penalty minutes on a scheduling change.
“We adjusted our schedule this year to start the season earlier which gave us less training camp and practice time so it was sloppy but they showed effort and willed our way to the win,” Roberts said.
The Cherry and White were able to pull off the 4-2 win behind two goals from Junior forward Joe Pisko, who Roberts named as one of the top replacements offensively for Frain, and two assists from Junior defenseman Steve Ermigiotti.
The team then traveled south to Florida to face off in back-to-back games with Florida Gulf Coast. The first game stayed close with the score tied 1-1 after the first period, 2-2 after the second period, and 3-3 with five minutes to go in the third. As the game went back and forth with both teams exchanging blows, Florida Gulf Coast was the team that was able to score the final and deciding goal off of a rebound in front of the net with three minutes remaining.
“The shots were pretty even and our goaltending was fantastic but they were able to get the one that mattered,” Roberts said.
Senior forward George Rutter scored two goals for the Owls and Will Neifeld, described by his own coach as one of the best goaltenders in the country, stopped 32 of 36 shots he faced.
The second game hurt the Owls in more ways than one. They were beat handily 7-1 and were dealt two big injuries as defensive leader and assistant captain Andy Trainor and freshman defensive Chris Carnivalle both suffered separated shoulders. They are expected to miss 2-3 weeks. Senior forward Taylor Lockhart scored the lone goal for Temple.
“Our goaltending was fantastic but we were outshot badly,” Roberts said. “They played pretty physical and we weren’t ready for it. We held our own in the first half but the injuries and fatigue caught up to us in the second half of the game.”
The team has two road games this weekend against Rowan and Montclair State.
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.