The Owls told themselves they weren’t out of it, despite a three-goal deficit at the end of the first period against Penn State.
They were right.
Temple climbed all the way back to draw even with the Ice Lions, but then relinquished three straight goals to lose 8-5 as forward Christopher Lewis led the way with two goals and an assist Saturday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State claimed the victory largely through its power play unit, as it converted three of eight opportunities.
The Ice Lions forced the Owls on their heels from the outset. The early attack forced the sluggish Owls to commit four penalties that led to two Penn State scores.
“That’s way too much,” defenseman Jason Lombardi said. “Our penalty kill is a lot stronger than it showed. Against a team of that caliber, taking too many penalties, nine out of 10 times you are not going to win that game. I would say that our penalty kill was very good, but we should have never been in that position in the first place and that hurt us a lot.”
The Owls regrouped during the first period intermission and got goals in the second period from forwards Brady O’Donnell, Greg Malinowski and Steve Kennedy. Temple reversed the pressure on Penn State and forced it into five second-period penalties. Three successful power play chances for Temple got them within one at the end of the second period.
“After the first period we just told ourselves that we weren’t out of it and that we still had 40 minutes to play so we just wanted to get back out there and go to work,” O’Donnell said. “We won the [second period] 3-1 so we definitely got the message across.”
The Owls also got physical with the Ice Lions by clearing them out of the crease of their goalie Eric Semborski.
Defenseman John Anthony carried Temple’s momentum into the third when his slap shot from the point was tipped in by forward Cody Vassa for the equalizer.
“We were pretty riled up,” O’Donnell said. “One of their players actually got hurt on that play so we got pumped up, but we also wanted to make sure he was all right.”
Three minutes later, an opportunistic Penn State took advantage of a rebound off the boards to slide the go-ahead-goal by Semborski.
A frustrated Owls team committed a penalty soon afterward, and the Ice Lions scored on a slap shot that put the game away.
“I wouldn’t say we were totally worn out,” Lombardi said. “I think the second goal was the one that really took the wind out of our sails.”
The loss comes in wake of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s rankings Sunday afternoon. For now the team is off for the next week and will resume play on Dec. 5 against Saint Joseph’s at 9:20 p.m.
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Stephen Godwin Jr.