ABINGDON, Md. – A half-hour after Temple’s 4-3 Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey playoff loss to Rowan Friday night, Ryan Frain sat alone on an empty set of bleachers.
A zamboni at the Ice World rink in Abington Maryland had already started laying out a fresh sheet of ice as Frain locked his stare out to the ice, having just watched his team cough up a 3-1 third-period lead.
“I am a little loss for words right now,” Frain said prior to taking his seat in silence. “They say a two-goal lead is a dangerous lead in hockey and [Rowan] just found a way to pop two quick ones. Their goalie stood tall in the final period and I felt like we had a good amount of chances after we were down 4-3. Those guys were working and I give a lot of credit to Rowan for sticking to it and not giving up, even though I knew they obviously weren’t going to.”
Rowan burst into the third period with a pair of goals after the first 3 minutes, 25 seconds. The final tally came with 13 minutes left, after the Owls tried to employ a more physical approach.
“[It] was just a couple mental lapses,” senior defenseman Chris Carnivale said. “[There] were a couple let downs. We did a little bit of running around and there was a lack of discipline a little bit, but for most part it was just mental lapses. [There were] just holes in our game that we can’t let happen that close to the end.”
The pressure was put on Temple before the game even started, when Rider and Penn State contested the arena’s prior game. The majority of Owls were near the glass boards in the stands watching intently, hoping for a Penn State win that would help give Temple, the No. 10-ranked team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings, an edge over Rider, the No. 11 team in the region. As the Top 10 teams in the region advance to the regional tournament, Friday’s results will likely have an impact toward the ACHA’s final ranking, which will be released Sunday at 6 p.m.
Penn State cost Temple two losses this season, and didn’t do them any additional favors Friday as it lost to Rider in the final seven minutes.
Temple hit the scoreboard early when freshman forward Devon Thomas scored after digging out a puck in the Rowan zone.
Rowan skated with pace throughout the game and fueled its offense with long stretch passes. The threats pestered Owls goalie Eric Semborski, but Rowan was unable to convert on its chances until the final period.
The Owls’ defense combated the opposing attack by keeping a man high in its zone to prevent odd-man rushes.
“We adjusted pretty well, but that is probably the best way to break a forecheck,” Carnivale said. “We had a guy on them most of the night and we made sure they weren’t getting the breaks that they were trying to get.”
Rowan evened the score early in the second period, but it appeared to raise the play of Temple’s offense. The Owls controlled the possessions by keeping the puck in Rowan’s zone and creating turnovers.
Forward Patrick Golden created the first Rowan miscue, as his goal gave the lead back to the Owls. Forward David Brewer followed a few minutes later when another scramble in front of the Rowan goalie resulted in his lead-expanding tally.
Ahead of the final release of the regional rankings, Carnivale said the loss hurt his team’s chances of making the cut.
Carnivale is one of eight seniors on the team who may have played their last game in a Temple uniform.
“It’s been fun just having something to put everything into,” Carnivale said. “Doing it is a tough sport. It’s always fun coming together as a team and getting to know the guys. It’s been a great experience. Everyone grows. It helped me grow as a person that is for sure, as well as everyone in that locker room.”
Leading goal scorer and forward Stephen Kennedy, was named this season’s most valuable MACH player. Kennedy also claimed one of three MACH forward awards.
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.