It took until the last 22 seconds of Friday night’s away game to determine a winner between Temple and Rider.
That was when junior forward Stephen Kennedy picked up the puck in the slot and shot it past the Rider goaltender to take a 4-3 lead in the last moments of the game, sealing the Temple victory.
After dropping both games the previous weekend to Penn State and Rowan, the Owls were in need of momentum to carry them forward throughout the rest of the season.
“[Friday night] was a huge win for us and will be a stepping stone to a winning direction,” senior forward Joe Pisko said. “We’re capable of beating any team in this league but have lacked playing a full 60 minutes this year. We finally put together a full 60 and proved to ourselves what we are capable of doing.”
“We had to have this game,” sophomore forward and team captain Greg Malinowski said. “Everyone knew it going in and we played a full 60 [minutes] to get the win.”
Temple not only played the full 60 minutes, it played the entire game following coach Ryan Frain’s game plan.
Frain has stressed dumping the puck deep into the opponents’ zone and establishing a forecheck early on. From the forecheck, Frain wants the Owls to win the puck back and cycle it back to the blue line to take shots from the point and crash on net for the rebounds. That’s something every line did for Temple Friday.
“It was awesome to see all four lines buzzing [Friday] night,” Frain said. “High energy, sticking to the game plan that we know works best and not deviating from it at all.”
“We knew we had to get it done,” senior goaltender Chris Mullen said. “And we did – we’re a good team, too. We stuck to our game plan and that’s what we need to do to win.”
Kennedy, who took a three-year break from hockey before joining the Temple club, has continued to contribute all season. He now has 19 goals in 15 games. Earlier in the season, Pisko said although Kennedy had already put up a lot of points, the best was yet to come for him.
“He is definitely getting there if he’s not there already,” Pisko said. “Either way, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’s been out of the game for so long no one really knew what to expect from him. Each game he’s getting more and more comfortable, which is dangerous for opposing teams, especially with someone as skilled as he is.”
“The kid just wants to be on the ice and wants the puck on his stick at all times,” Frain said. “But it’s not just him out there. [Junior forward Patrick] Golden and Pisko are working their tails off as well.”
Pisko and Golden have been most recently paired up with Kennedy and the line has gelled together nicely. Golden is more of a fourth line grinder, but his intensity and energy complement the finesse of Pisko and Kennedy.
“I love the combination,” Pisko said. “Golden works hard every shift and both guys want nothing more than to win games. Kennedy and I complement each other well offensively and Golden is just a bonus. He’s proved these last couple of games that he has no problem scoring goals and can be an impact player.”
“It’s a relief playing with a couple of guys who really go out of their way to make plays and win hockey games,” Pisko added.
With Friday night’s win, Temple snapped its two-game losing streak. The Owls said they want to carry that momentum into this week.
“We just got to take this confidence and momentum into practice,” Frain said. “We got Monmouth and Rowan next week, so two ‘W’s’, definitely.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at samuel.matthews @temple.edu or on Twitter @SJMatthews13.