One bad period separated the ice hockey club from perfection during the last four games of the regular season.
The lone blemish puts Temple at 3-1 in its post-winter break schedule, but it remains in the mix for a birth in the American Hockey Collegiate Association regional playoffs.
Its loss came against the University of Delaware, when the team allowed three goals in the first 10 minutes of its opening period.
“The goal is to not beat yourself,” coach Ryan Frain said. “I thought coming out flat during that first period against Delaware [and] letting those three quick goals in the first 10 minutes obviously put us on our heels and it’s tough to recover from that. One bad period kind of cost us [a] fourth win, and we’ll just have to see what happens this weekend to see if we did enough to make regionals or not.”
The Owls came out of the winter break rusty, but had two weeks to prepare for their first game against Georgetown. Temple routed the Hoyas and did the same to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County the following night.
A sluggish start against Delaware cost the Owls as they ended up losing the game, 7-4, despite rallying in the final period. The Owls recovered the next night in a rematch against UMBC with another dominant showing, a 5-2 victory.
“I feel like the most part that we did a very solid job, minus the first period of Delaware,” Frain said of his team’s recent four-game stretch. “I thought we played very well through all four games and [we are] looking forward for it to continue into Friday [for the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association tournament].”
The time reflection has not yet dawned on the Owls, but their captain, senior Greg Malinowski, said he is keeping his eyes fixed on the big picture.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” Malinowski said. “Sometimes when you think about the past too much you get up in it, and you forget about the future. We have a lot of stuff to worry about besides the past.”
The Owls are scheduled to face Rowan on Friday, a team they have already lost to twice this season. The rematch is not the only point of intrigue for Temple however, as the extended season might solidify its spot in the Top 10 of the regional rankings. Currently, the team sits in 10th place, with the final edition of rankings set to come out either Monday or Tuesday.
“This is the first year that [Friday’s game] actually means something as far as rankings and our place in the regionals, because we are sitting at No. 10 right now,” forward Alex Kempinski said. “We have to beat Rowan on Friday and try to win out and find a nice, comfy spot in the regional tournament.”
Healthy no more
The loss against Delaware not only hurt Temple’s record on Friday, but also cost them defenseman Ryan Dumbach for the season.
Dumbach suffered a torn acromioclavicular joint in his shoulder as well as a concussion that could sideline him for four to six months.
“I definitely think he’ll be missed, but at the same time I think we have enough [defensemen] to come in and step in with some experience,” Frain said. “I have all the confidence in the world to put whoever we need to in certain situations and that they are going to succeed.”
Frain said he spoke to Dumbach this past Saturday morning and told him about the progress he saw in Dumbach in his second semester with the team.
“I told him [the injury] a real shame because I thought he was kind of feeling himself out in his first semester and try to get acclimated to the speed of the game at this level,” Frain said. “He worked his tail off during Christmas break to not lose what he had gained through the first semester, and through the first two games against Georgetown and UMBC, I thought he played very well and I thought he was one of the best players on the ice for us.”
It originally appeared that Kempinski was injured midway through the game against UMBC, but it turned out to be an equipment failure.
“[In] the second or third period against UMBC, I took a pass at the goalie and [UMBC] didn’t like that too much so [there was] a little scrum and somehow my skate broke,” Kempinski said. “That’s what happens in those little scrums like that.”
Beside the incident against Delaware, Temple has remained largely healthy throughout much of the season. Malinowski and forward Patrick Golden were the only members of the team to miss any time.
“Every team has at least a couple injuries,” Malinowski said. “I was out for a little bit. Everybody gets banged up a little bit, but it’s just hockey.”
Among the best
Forward Stephen Kennedy eclipsed last year’s goal total and is now earning conference recognition for it.
Kennedy’s 34 goals put him in the running for the MACHA’s Most Valuable Player. The other finalists are Penn State’s Christopher Lewis and Liberty’s Paul Ingles.
Kennedy is currently ranked 21st in the ACHA rankings, but third among the MACHA scoring leaders.
“He’s in some pretty good company up there,” Frain said. “They are of the top players up there not only in our conference, but I would say in all of Division 2. Our conference is highly competitive and [with] some of the [American Collegiate Hockey Association] guys, some of [their numbers] are kind of skewed. Some of the guys at the top just cake-walk teams, where they have seven or eight points a game. I think Kennedy and [Lewis and Ingles], their numbers are very legit.”
Kennedy, Ingles and Lewis are also up for the All-MACHA Forward of the Year award. The rest of the competition is UMBC’s Ryan Atkinson and Rider’s Pat Grill.
“I think it just speaks to the effort Kennedy puts in on a nightly basis when he is at the rink,” Frain said. “He is always ready to rock and roll. He hasn’t done it alone. He has a good supporting cast throughout the year, mostly of [forwards Patrick] Golden and [Joey] Powell. He just looks to make everyone else better and is always motivating his linemates and I think it is very well deserved on his part.”
The results will be released Friday afternoon between noon and 1:15 p.m.
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.