Stephen Kennedy and Joey Powell have trouble describing their harmony on the ice.
Midway through the season, the duo represents one of the ice hockey club’s best scoring threats, as Kennedy and Powell have combined for a total of 47 points.
“I think we both have good hockey awareness on the ice,” Kennedy said. “We’re good with the systems, but you [have to] be on the ice both offensively and defensively kind of seeing [the same thing].
Kennedy, a senior, has tallied 22 goals, ranked seventh among all American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II scorers.
The graduation of forward Joe Pisko following last season created a void on Kennedy’s line that needed to be addressed.
The emergence of Powell is lessening the load for Kennedy, but the sniper said he did not foresee the connection forming during the preseason.
“He’s not really the player he started out to be,” Kennedy said. “It’s funny because we actually got into a little bit of an altercation during tryouts, but we ended up hanging out at the rookie party and it ended up being a big joke.”
Kennedy said there are distinct differences in the playing styles of Pisko and Powell, despite each contributing to his success.
“They’re definitely two different types of players,” Kennedy said. “Joe [Pisko] had more speed. He was the guy that would sacrifice for the team and be the first guy to the corner every time. Joey [Powell] does a more strategic type of thing. He doesn’t have to use his speed, necessarily. He does the little things, though. He gets faster when he needs to and he’s really good at getting faster on his hips.”
Powell approached coach Ryan Frain prior to the season and expressed interest in playing for the Owls. Powell hadn’t played competitive hockey in about a year, but Frain gave him an invitation to tryouts.
The move was endorsed by Powell’s former coach and the current hockey director of the Northeast Skate Zone, Chris Baer.
Baer coached Powell in the Delaware Valley Hockey League as part of his Wissahickon Warriors team, and remembered him as one of his top scorers.
Frain started the season with rookie forward Devon Thomas on Kennedy’s line, but the spot was not secured as the team’s younger players were filtered in and out of the lineup.
“[I] was trying different line combinations and really just went with what was hot,” Frain said. “I don’t see myself breaking up that line anytime too soon.”
The pairing looks smooth now, but Powell said Kennedy has helped him adjust to collegiate hockey.
“[Kennedy] has just shown me what you have to do to be good at this level to be successful,” Powell said. “At the practices, we work a lot on our breakouts. We kind of just feel each other out. I know where he is going to be on the breakouts and where I should be to give him the puck. He shows me sometimes and we talk about it, but it’s really just a feeling.”
The feeling is helped by Kennedy’s distant shouts across the ice that helps Powell pick out Kennedy amongst the commotion on the ice.
“You can pick it up after playing together for a while,” Powell said. “You can pick up certain people, what they say and what they sound like.”
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @StephenGodwinJr