Forward Stephen Kennedy tallied a career night and then he gave a little more.
The senior sharp shooter glided down the ice and got Villanova goalie Nick DeSimone to lunge at the puck, but Kennedy pulled it away, and scored the game winner in a 7-6 contest at the Flyers Skate Zone Sunday night.
Temple’s win came after the Wildcats scored twice with 23 seconds left to force overtime and a shootout.
Kennedy’s goal capped a four-goal performance with an assist and his line of senior forward Dan Nucero and sophomore forward Joey Powell combined for eight points.
“Obviously I contributed some points, but I also gave up some points,” Kennedy said. “The one in the slot where I threw the puck away, I think that was the fourth goal. That was my fault. I think I made up for it by some extent.”
Sophomore goalie Scott Salamon rejected 49-of-55 shots and turned aside all three skaters he faced in the shootout. Salamon played in place of junior goalie Hayden Richards, who played the previous four games.
“I just stayed calm,” Salamon said. “When you start panicking it gets you off your game. It’s not the first time I’ve been in a shootout, and it’s not the last, so I just remember to stay calm and do your best.”
Villanova put itself in a tough position in the first period when the Wildcats got tagged with a boarding penalty on sophomore forward Patrick Devlin. Kennedy scored on the ensuing power play, when sophomore Matt Maratea found him three minutes into the period.
After killing off a second penalty the Wildcats outshot the Owls 6-2 and tied the game two minutes later.
Temple freshman defender Nick Fuchs got shaken up later in the period on a hard boarding penalty. Fuchs left the game with a concussion and shortened an Owls’ defensive bench that was missing senior defenseman Jason Lombardi with a game suspension, and junior Matt Krulikowski for personal reasons.
“I think everybody stepped up,” senior defenseman Patrick Hanrahan said. “[Sophomore defenseman John] Kumpf and [junior defenseman Justin] McKenney both logged major minutes and they both played great, so did [sophomore defenseman Ryan] Dumbach. [Junior defenseman Aron] Litostanksi was a little banged up, but we ran with four defenseman there for a while, and everybody stepped for that.”
The Owls started the second period defending a Dumbach penalty, but then forced four consecutive penalties on the Wildcats. Temple had a couple five-on-three chances, but had trouble cycling the puck and looked to likely waste the chances before Dumbach scored on a wrister from the point halfway through the period.
“We’re trying to get our guys to shoot a little bit more,” coach Roman Bussetti said. “They want to make a lot of cross ice passes and make everything pretty, and I’m just trying to get them to go to the net.”
Temple remained on the power play, but Nucero misplayed a puck in front of Salamon, and Villanova pounced on the chance to retake the lead.
One minute, 20 seconds later, Nucero made up for his mistake by scoring on a pass from Hanrahan.
The two teams played a relatively clean third period before the Wildcats were whistled for a penalty with 13:10 remaining. Powell capitalized immediately by scoring four seconds into the man advantage on a pass from Hanrahan.
Kennedy then scored a pair of goals a couple minutes apart with five minutes remaining with the second goal coming off a backhander past DeSimone.
“We thought the defense was one of their weak links,” Bussetti said. “They were only rolling five [defenseman.] A couple of them were smaller, and we just wanted to get on them, put pressure on them and force them to cough the puck up or make their plays quick. We had a second guy cheating down in the zone, so when they went man to man, we could pressure them right away.”
The Wildcats pulled DeSimone with two minutes left and Bussetti called multiple timeouts to focus his team. The stoppages were ineffective as Villanova scored its fifth goal off a faceoff with 23 seconds left and then scored on a two-on-one opportunity with 7.1 seconds left.
Bussetti put Kennedy, Hanrahan, Dumbach, Powell and Nucero on for much of overtime, and the line kept Villanova scoreless for the rest of the game.
“In the beginning of the season it definitely does, but over a few games you start to develop an endurance, but we’re used to it,” Kennedy said about the extended playing time. “We’re all seniors now so it just gets us ready for how many minutes we are going to have to play in order to be successful.”
Stephen Godwin Jr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr
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