After over a month off for winter break, the Owls took back to the ice this past weekend for a Saturday and Sunday afternoon home-and-home series against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, with the away team winning in each matchup to split the series.
“I thought we played pretty well,” coach Ryan Frain said. “Obviously we wanted two ‘W’s’, it didn’t turn out that way but I told the guys this is a step in the right direction for the remainder of the season.”
After losing four of its last six games, Temple went into Saturday’s game at UMBC in need of a win to help keep its playoff hopes alive.
It wasn’t until close to midway through the second period until the game saw its first goal. That’s when Sophomore forward Dave Brewer shot home a rebound to give the Owls a 1-0 lead 6:32 into the second. Shortly after, sophomore defenseman Jason Lombardi received a pass from junior forward Allan Fenton and netted the game’s second goal to take a 2-0 lead.
“I shot it up the boards,” Lombardi said. “And our winger was spreading the ‘D’, and I knew he was going to dump it back in. So I jumped the play and then I passed it to Fenton and we went in on a two-on-one, and he held it to the last second so the defender went to him and he sent it back to me and it was just me and the goalie one-on-one.”
Up 2-0 going into the third, UMBC would battle back and score with 3:14 left to play in regulation to make things interesting in the last few minutes of play.
But Temple’s defense and senior goaltender Chris Mullen stood strong and did not concede again resulting in the 2-1 Temple victory.
Mullen had 32 saves in the win.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Mullen said. “It was one of my more solid games of the season. I made a couple of pretty big saves, and that kind of motivated everyone to get the win because we knew how much we needed it. So I think they kind of just rallied behind me and ended up putting a couple of goals past [UMBC’s] goaltender that we needed to win.”
Sunday’s return home to Northeast Skate Zone was not as uplifting for the Owls.
Penalties hurt Temple early. After committing two penalties, UMBC went on a 5-on-3 power play and capitalized with the two man advantage, scoring with 11:55 left in the first period.
Temple responded before the end of the first when senior forward Pat Golden scored on a rebound after a shot from senior forward Joe Pisko to tie the game at 1-1.
However, the rally would be short lived. UMBC tallied its second with just 15 seconds to play in the first.
“It’s tough,” Frain said. “Especially when we played as undisciplined as we had all year. We kind of harped on that all week at practice … We couldn’t put them on the power play. I played for those [UMBC’s] two coaches, and that’s their big kicker, it’s the power play.”
The penalties continued to occur in the second period with both teams being guilty parties.
As the play finally settled down and five-on-five play resumed, Brewer was able to capitalize and scored to tie it up at two with 10:36 left in the second. But just like before, UMBC was able to score with little time left in the period to retake a one goal lead going into the third.
The third saw numerous penalties, five overall, but despite having three power plays in the period, the Owls couldn’t grab an equalizer and dropped the second game 3-2.
Having split this weekend series, the Owls will need to win out the remaining five games of the regular season to have a realistic shot of making the American Collegiate Hockey Association regional playoffs.
“I told the guys we need to win out,” Frain said. “We have five left and they’re all winnable games, and that’s what we need to do to make a push towards playoffs.”
The remaining five games of the regular season will all be played at home, starting first with Wagner College Friday night at 9:20 p.m.