For the third year in a row, the Owls will not make it to the American Collegiate Hockey Association regional playoffs.
“It sucks to go out like this,” senior goaltender Chris Mullen said.
To make it to regionals, a team has to be voted in as one of the Top 10 teams in its region. Although Temple was already a long shot to be voted into the Top 10 of the ACHA Southeast Region, last Saturday night’s 6-3 loss to Virginia Tech all but confirmed that the Owls would not receive an invitation. Temple will instead compete in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
Despite making it to ACHA nationals four years ago, Temple has missed out on qualifying for regionals ever since.
“It’s frustrating,” senior forward Nick McMahon said. “After going to regionals and then nationals my first year and I thought it was the beginning of many runs to regionals and maybe a few to nationals. The last couple of years have just been tough luck.”
McMahon said this team considered itself the most talented team the Owls have had since their run to nationals, which makes this year’s failure to qualify all the more painful.
“This year we were very excited,” McMahon said. “It’s the best team we’ve had since my first year here and we just didn’t get bounces throughout the season, just tough losses, and it’s frustrating because we’re right there. Talent-wise we can play with anybody. We just can’t put 60 minutes together every game. It’s very frustrating as a senior. We know that we have the team that could have gone far, and we’re not. I will always regret it.”
“It’s definitely frustrating,” senior forward Joe Pisko said. “Especially considering the potential this team had. We’re definitely a really talented team but the difference was discipline and putting together a full 60 minutes.”
Four years ago, coach Ryan Frain was part of the Owls team that made its run to ACHA nationals. He played with the seniors of this team when they were freshman and going to nationals together.
“They’re special to me because I played with them,” Frain said, as his retired number eight jersey hung above him in the rafters of Northeast Skatezone. “They’re kind of close to my heart because my last year they sent me out on top and I wanted to send these guys out on top. Obviously that’s not going to be the case now.”
Temple will compete in the MACHA playoffs at the end of the regular season. Although it is not as prestigious as the ACHA regionals, winning the MACHA tournament is still something the Owls will take very seriously.
“I told the guys it’s a chance to prove yourself heading into next year,” Frain said. “We know we can beat these teams, it’s just a matter of putting it together for 60 minutes and staying out of the box. We’re going to play these games and prove to teams one by one as we move through the MACH tournament that we were supposed to be in regionals even though were not.”
For the seniors, the MACHA playoffs will be the last collegiate hockey they will play.
“It’s going to be the last competitive hockey we play,” Mullen said. “Obviously we want to win it. It’s all we got left. And then we’re men’s league players.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SJMatthews13.