Temple needs to win out the remaining five games of the regular season to have a realistic chance at making the American Collegiate Hockey Association regional playoffs this year.
On Friday night, the Owls took a positive step toward that goal, defeating Wagner College 4-2 at Northeast Skatezone.
Even with the victory, Frain was not happy with his team’s performance.
“Not our best effort by far,” Frain said. “But it’s a ‘W’ and we’re moving in the right direction … In order to even have a sniff at regionals we have to win out. We got the ‘W’ tonight, and I told the guys, ‘Better effort tomorrow night is needed or the outcome is going to be different.’”
Temple dominated play in the first period, spending the majority of it in Wagner’s defensive zone. The Owls had numerous chances to score but Wagner junior goaltender Steven Sedlmaier was very good early, making saves often to keep the game scoreless going into the second.
“The goalie from Wagner pretty much stood on his head,” Frain said. “We pretty much peppered him … He played a hell of a game.”
Despite dominating play in the first, Temple opened play with a penalty early in the second when sophomore defenseman Pat Hanrahan was called for cross checking. Wagner junior forward Anthony DeCicco would score on the power play shortly after, shooting a rebound past Owls junior goalie Eric Semborski to give Wagner a 1-0 lead with 14:27 left in the second.
Temple responded with 4:45 left in the second when Dave Brewer picked up a rebound to the side of the net and shot a backhander with little angle to tie the game up.
The Owls added to their lead when Jason Lombardi sprung sophomore forward and team captain Greg Malinowski on a breakaway, finishing the play with a wrist shot over Sedlmaier’s blocker side.
“I was the last guy back in our zone,” Malinowski said. “And I saw that they were getting a line change so I yelled to Jason Lombardi, and he just flung it right up the ice right on my stick, and I just shot it far pad.”
Temple was not done in the second. With 27 seconds left in the period, freshman defenseman Alex Wizna took a slap shot from the right of the faceoff circle and had it deflected in by sophomore forward Cody Vassa to give Temple the 3-1 lead going into the last period of regulation.
Wagner started the third period strong, scoring early to reduce the gap to one but it would be short lived. Soon after, senior forward Joe Pisko flicked a backhand saucer pass to junior forward Pat Golden, beating the goaltender far-side.
“I saw Joey pick it up around center ice,” Golden said. “He went in, made a move around a kid, laid it back under and I was right there to bury it.”
The two goal lead would stand, and Temple took it 4-2.
Penalties have haunted the Owls this season, especially in their previous game against University of Maryland Baltimore-County. But tonight the Owls stayed disciplined and committed only two penalties all night.
“It’s kind of been a focus all year,” Frain said. “It’s one of those things that we have to be better focused. I was very happy with the lack of penalties tonight, and that’s what we need to do. Five-on-five I think we’re as good as anyone in the league.”
This win keeps the Owls slim regional playoff hopes alive. Temple will get right back at it against Rider tomorrow night, 8 p.m. at Northeast Skatezone.