When the Owls had their back against the wall in a five-on-three situation, coach Ryan Frain went with the guys who played at the Hatfield Ice Arena for years.
The chain of events carried over from the end of second period, when forwards Justin McKenney and Joey Powell were tagged with penalties in a 5-1 game against Georgetown.
Forward Greg Malinowski and defensemen Patrick Hanrahan and Jason Lombardi each played for the Hatfield Ice Dogs at either the club or travel team level.
The trio not only defended the Hoyas attack, but added the biggest goal of the game.
After his teammates blocking multiple shots, McKenney returned to the ice to poke the puck out to center ice. Malinowski recovered it, and used McKenney’s draw to score a top shelf goal on Hoyas goalie, Josh Heckman.
“Luckily, Justin McKenney drove the net and took both guys, so I had all the time in the world,” Malinowski said after the game. “I just tried to relax and shoot where the goalie wasn’t.”
Malinowski’s goal was his second of the game, as his teammates added three more goals for a 5-1 win over the Hoyas on Jan. 24. Hanrahan harkens from Hatfield and added a goal and two assists in front of a home crowd.
The key to the climax to the game was communication. The Owls labored for the first 40 minutes, chasing the Hoyas 1-0 lead. The team’s 41-day separation from the ice was evident for the players.
“We started communicating a lot because like I said before we hadn’t played in a while and a 5-on-3 is really hard so we just got together and said ‘hey why don’t we start communicating and tell each other where were at and where the pucks going [and] we’ll be totally fine,” Malinowski said.
Hanrahan and Lombardi are already used to communicating, as the both played for La Salle College high school, who used the arena as its home ice. Lombardi and Hanrahan were often paired together on their senior team, who eventually won the Pennsylvania State Championship.
“Senior year we were all together and we captured the title so that was really cool,” Lombardi said. “We all went out on top. [There were] a lot of highlights.”
Lombardi made a game saving play halfway through the second period when his dive thwarted a breakaway by Hoyas forward John Kelly.
“He had a few steps on me so I knew he was going to be the first one to the puck, so my only play was to dive and extend with my long reach to [try] to knock the puck out,” Lombardi said. “Luckily, I got good enough contact to knock it out of the dangerous area. I was just trying to knock it out the best I could.”
Frain is also from the area and cited the reasoning behind the game’s location.
“That’s kind of why we had this game here,” Frain said. “It’s kind of like a neutral site home game. You get some people, who normally can’t make it out to [The Northeast Skate Zone] and [you give them] a chance to come out and watch us.”
Stephen Godwin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.