The Owls returned to practice Monday night, preparing for a final stretch that will allow little margin for error.
The team sits at 13-9-2, and could use a sweep over its final four games to make the American Collegiate Hockey Association Regional playoffs.
“We have to win out either way,” captain Greg Malinowski said. “There were a lot of close games [and] a lot of tough penalties, but we are in a good spot right now. We don’t have any games this weekend so we have a hard practice this week so we can go as hard as we want and be sore for next week. We’ll heal up over the weekend and have another week of practice and be right back at it next week for the night games.”
After a few jokes to open practice, the team quickly shed its jovial attitude to prepare to go undefeated for the rest of the season. Some of the players’ shots were off-target, but they often got the better of their goaltender counterparts.
“A lot of people still shoot the puck really hard just trying to get the accuracy back,” Malinowski said. “I was shooting the puck pretty hard, but a couple of my shots were off, but that will come back in time.”
Highlighting the practice was the duel between forward Stephen Kennedy and goalie Scott Salamon in the team’s scrimmages.
Early in the drill, Salamon stuffed a goal attempt by forward Joey Powell, only to have Kennedy tip in the rebound. Salmon would later rebound, when Kennedy tried a similar tactic with forward Brady O’Donnell, but came up empty.
The Owls remaining schedule consists of games against Georgetown and Delaware and a pair of games against the University of Maryland. Coach Ryan Frain believes his team is capable of the feat with the right attitude, despite the odds.
“They just [have to] come back and be ready to work and I told them they [have to] control what they can control and all that is taking care of business one practice at a time, one game at a time,” Frain said. “It’s kind of the same mentality we [had], but it’s crunch time now.”
Stretching for greatness
The usual stance for student-athletes during the winter break is to practice the sport they already know, but several members of the ice-hockey club instead chose a unique conditioning method.
It required the Owls to exchange their sticks for thermoplastic mats and their hockey sweaters for clothes that were thinner in layer.
“We did a lot of yoga and meditating over break actually,” forward Greg Malinowski said.
Malinowski organized the team activity after one of his close family members, who regularly participate in the activity, invited Malinowski to bring his teammates to an undisclosed gym.
Malinowski’s history with the sport dates back to his days at William Tennent high school with the Panthers hockey team at 18 years old.
“I started my senior year of high school,” Malinowski said. “My junior hockey team did it and it was relaxing.”
Sticking with the usual
Salamon is beginning his second semester with the team and opted for a more familiar practice regiment on his break. The backup-goaltender chose to train with goalie coach Chris Economou, who Salamon has visited since he was 14 years old.
Economou is an independent goalie guru, who trains players from five-years-old up to the professional level.
“First semester we had a lot of games [and] a lot of practices,” Salamon said. “I kind of got caught off speed. Over break I worked a lot with my goalie trainer so I felt pretty good out there tonight. So I feel up to speed [and] ready to go.”
The new semester also means the departure of forward Chris Parrezzi, who graduated in December.
Parrezzi was a rotation player, but still contributed two goals through 12 games this season.
“I appreciate his efforts that he gave us the first semester, but like I said we have to go with what we have for this final stretch run and see what happens.”
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.