Owls coach Ryan Frain gave Saturday’s game puck to someone he has described as the team’s backbone all season.
Senior goaltender Eric Semborski’s numbers edge that of Chris Mullen, the team’s starter in net last season. He has tied Mullen’s win total from last season, but has less losses. Semborski also has a save percentage that sits a tenth higher at .897, and a goals-against-average that is 20 points lower than Mullen.
“[Semborski] has stood on his head all year,” Frain said. “I told those guys in the locker room afterwards I had the game puck and I wish I could split it eight ways, each piece going to a senior. But Sembo has been the backbone of the team all year, so he got the game puck tonight.”
Semborski continued his successful season by limiting the Retrievers to two goals on 27 shots, while forward Stephen Kennedy scored two goals and had an assist in a 5-2 on Feb. 7 at the Northeast Skatezone.
The rebound performance comes after the senior goalie was yanked after two periods and six goals against Delaware Friday.
“I didn’t play the way I wanted to [Friday],” Semborski said. “I knew that and the team definitely knew they didn’t play the way they wanted to, so as a unit we wanted to come out as a unit right from the start hungry. We wanted to play 60 minutes because that was the problem [Friday], so we definitely came out and took it to them right away.”
Semborski’s teammates put their plan into action when they scored three goals in the first 10 minutes, 18 seconds.
“We had a really excited locker room on senior night,” forward Steve Luongo said. “It’s kind of the reverse of what happened to us the night before against Delaware. It was their senior night and they came out real hot so we did the same thing. We came out real hot and scored a few goals to put us up early.”
The Retrievers outshot the Owls 6-2 early in the game, but Temple soon overcame the shot deficit and doubled the Retrievers throughout the game, eventually outshooting UMBC, 42-27.
Temple was able to limit the Retrievers’ offense by keeping the puck in their zone and winning battles to loose pucks.
“It’s just manufacturing offense [and] sustaining pressure in their zone,” Frain said. “Our cycle was working really well down low, and when we gained possession we worked it up top to the [defense] and [tried] to get some shots and crash the net for rebounds.”
The Owls also shut down the Retrievers’ vaunted power play as UMBC went 0 for 3 on the man-advantage.
“Our penalty kill has been very good all year,” Frain said. “Obviously you don’t want to use it too much, but when we have had to use it, it’s on. We have our set [penalty killers] out there all the time and they know their responsibilities and roles, and it’s just a matter of us communicating to get the job done.”
Maryland found life at the beginning of the third period after a fight at the end of the second period. The final frame started with both sides missing two players as a result.
The Retrievers scored two goals in less than a minute, but Kennedy answered with a goal off a faceoff.
“Obviously they are playing for pride,” Frain said. “It’s a rivalry game so they don’t want to get embarrassed. I didn’t expect them to roll over and die that is for sure. They came back firing and got us on our heels a little bit.”
Semborski was able to work the rest of the period scoreless as his team now has a week off before facing Rowan on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.