Penalties have been a cancer for Temple ice hockey all season long.
Heading into its Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association matchup with the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday, Temple led the MACHA with a total of 196 penalty minutes.
With that stigma attached to this year’s squad, it was only fitting that the Owls’ first game off of a five-week hibernation was dictated by a slew of Temple penalties en route to a 6-1 Temple loss.
After UMBC (14-8) scored quickly on the game’s first shift, the Owls pulled even about a minute later when senior defenseman Sean Ermigiotti netted a slap shot from the point. From there, the Owls (13-10) hung tough with their conference rivals and felt they were in a good position down 2-1 at the first intermission.
“The first half of the first period they dominated, but we were down 2-1 after the first period and we felt good about how we played,” coach Jerry Roberts said.“We played the right way and stuck to the game plan.”
“In the first half of the first period, they scored a quick goal off the first shift,” senior defenseman Andrew Trainor said. “But after we settled in and got used to playing hockey again, we hung with them and things started going our way and they would’ve kept going our way if we didn’t have the penalties.”
Any momentum the Owls gained toward the latter of that first period vanished in the next upon a sudden stream of penalties.
After falling behind 3-1 in the second period, a five-minute major given to junior Nick McMahon in the waning moments of the period eventually yielded three UMBC power play goals in the game’s final period to send the Owls back home in utter disbelief. Starting goalie Chris Mullen was pulled in favor of sophomore Eric Semborski after giving up UMBC’s fourth goal a minute into the third period.
“The penalties were the downfall,” Roberts said. “We took so many of them and it just took us out of the game. They got a few power play goals and it really breaks the flow of things. If I could change one thing about today, it would be the penalties.”
The Owls took seven trips to the penalty box, racking up a total of 19 penalty minutes and adding to their conference-leading season total with 215 total minutes.
“All season long it’s been something we’ve wanted to take care of,” Trainor said.“With coming back from the break, obviously our memories are a little rusty along with our hockey skills, but it’s definitely something we want to try to fix.”
“We have a very emotional team,” Roberts said.“That can be good from some aspects, but it can be just as bad if you start to lose control of yourself. We’re trying to work on [the penalties], but we’re not making too much progress.”
That the Owls hung right with their top rival before the penalty-laden second period was a positive for Roberts, and something that will be stressed time and time again before the two teams face each other again Sunday.
“We tried to recognize why things went wrong and focus on the fact that before the penalties started we were right with them,” Roberts said.“If you stay out of the box, you can play with [UMBC].“That’s what we tried to stress for tomorrow. Even though from a scoreboard perspective it was a shellacking, [UMBC] had three power play goals today. While the scoreboard looked bad, we reminded the guys that we were right here with them before the penalties started.”
The Owls will have an opportunity for redemption Sunday when they face UMBC at home. Game time is slated at 1:30 p.m.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @daParent93.