Midway through the second period of Friday night’s game against Liberty, the Owls found themselves down two skaters as a result of untimely penalties by junior forward Nick McMahon and freshman defenseman Jason Lombardi.
In a five on three situation, Temple was able to play strong defensively and keep Liberty off the board.
It seemed like the Owls were in cruise control. They had a comfortable 3-0 lead, generated good scoring chances and kept Liberty’s shots to a minimum with the defense allowing only eight shots on goal in the first period. All while junior goaltender Chris Mullen appeared well on his way to the first shutout of the season.
However, the Owls struggled to keep Liberty under control for long in Friday’s 6-5 shootout win.
“The game plan was working phenomenally for the first half of the game,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “[Liberty] are a smart team and they knew that something had to change.”
“That is when they started with the physical play and started playing in a way that would drum up that emotion,” Roberts said. “It started getting a little chippy out there, and they were able to get our guys off of their game a little bit.”
A first period goal by senior forward Sean Nealis and two more goals in the first half of the second period by freshman forward Dave Brewer and sophomore forward Brady O’ Donnell, respectively, gave a Temple a comfortable lead, but questionable goals by Liberty made securing a victory that much more difficult for the Owls.
Liberty got on the board after Chris Mullen lost track of the puck and it was poked from underneath his pads and in by Liberty Freshman Forward Josh King. Then Liberty cut the lead to one when Mullen was swept off of his feet by a Liberty player that fell and slid into the crease, leaving the net wide open for freshman forward Jeremy Martin to score.
Brewer scored his second goal of the night with the assists from senior forward Chris Brennan and freshman forward Cody Vassa to give Temple a two-goal lead back before the end of the second.
Midway through the third Liberty scored on another questionable play. Down 4-2, Liberty senior forward Brent Boschman scored, but the net was knocked loose before the puck went in. The referee originally ruled the call as a goal and the call was upheld.
“Apparently there are some new rules so I guess I got to update myself on the rulebook,” Mullen said. “The first three goals were pretty questionable.”
With three minutes and 13 seconds left, Liberty senior forward Brad Docksteader scored to tie the game up at four.
Less than a minute later, Temple answered back when senior defenseman Andrew Trainor took a slap shot from the point that was deflected in to give Temple a 5-4 lead, only for Liberty to score again with a shot put in by freshman forward Peter Kazmierczak in front of the net with three tenths of a second left in regulation to force overtime.
“We all wanted to make the safe play (on defense) and it kind of cost us by not getting the puck out,” Trainor said. “Then we got stuck out there with long shifts.”
After a scoreless overtime period, both teams went to the shootout.
The shootout went five rounds as both goaltenders, freshman Nick Devine for Liberty and Mullen for Temple saved shot after shot, until Brewer came up and slipped one by Devine to win it for the Owls.
“I’m really happy that Brewer popped that one in there, sealed the deal for us,” Mullen said.
“Ironically, our shootout game against Lehigh earlier this year he won the game in that shootout as well,” Roberts said. “So he has a flair for the dramatics.”
Temple defeated Liberty 6-5 in the shootout. The Owls are on a three game winning streak after victories against Rider, Delaware. They will look to continue the streak next Saturday against St. Joseph’s University.
Junior forward Joe Pisko made his return to the lineup after a six game suspension for his involvement in the brawl against Rowan University back on October 13th. Pisko had a scoring opportunity on a breakaway in the second and received a shootout attempt.
Freshman forward Greg Malinowski left the game in the third due to an upper body injury, he was wearing an ice pack around his elbow.
Nicholas William Tricome can be reached at email@example.com.