If you look closely, you’ll see Ryan Frain’s hair graying.
“I’m growing so much grey hair as the season progresses,” the Owls coach said with a laugh. “We’re not making it easy on ourselves.”
The Owls latest 5-4 shootout victory today at home against the Villanova Wildcats is just the latest of one goal games this season. In fact every game of this early season for Temple (3-1) have been nail biters, all decided by one goal, and the Owls have been under constant bombardment giving up nearly 50 shots in each game.
In the second game of the home-and-home series, Villanova started off the scoring in Sunday’s contest, slipping the puck past red hot Temple goaltender Chris Mullen six minutes and 46 seconds into the contest. The score was equalized by arguably the only Temple player that has been playing better than Mullen, junior forward Stephen Kennedy. Kennedy’s goal marked his seventh tally in just the first four games this season, and sent the Owls into the locker room tied at one heading into the second period.
In the second period, the Wildcats utilized the power play to take a 2-1 lead, but once again the score was equalized by Kennedy, who netted his second of the night for his eighth goal of the season. After Kennedy’s goal the momentum turned Temple’s way and with 29 seconds left in the period. Sophomore defensemen Jason Lombardi scored to give Temple the 3-2 lead. But Lombardi was not done, and he scored once more with just one second left in the second period to give the Owls the two goal lead, and the momentum going into the third period.
Yet, with all the momentum the Owls had to end the second period, it was completely reversed as Villanova came out with a vengeance to start the third and scored in the first minute and 58 seconds of the period.
Temple also spent a lot of the third period in the penalty box and the Wildcats looked to capitalize, but Mullen was up to the task and made a few great saves on the penalty kill to keep the Owls up by one.
After having just killed off a five minute major penalty, with only four minutes and 47 seconds left in regulation the Owls looked to close out the game but conceded again with just a minute and 19 seconds left to play.
After a scoreless five minutes of 4v4 hockey, the contest would have to be decided by a shootout.
Mullen saved all three of Villanova’s shooters, and Kennedy and sophomore forward Dave Brewer also missed their attempts on goal. It was up to sophomore Cody Vassa, who buried home his penalty shot for a Temple victory.
“I was happy to get the job done for the team in scoring the game winner,” Vassa said. “And really glad we were able to get what we wanted going into the game: a win.”
Vassa buried the clinching shootout goal, and Kennedy scored twice, making it every game this season that he has done so. Frain was proud of his goaltender, who once again for the third game in a row saw 49 shots. And in this contest, he saved 46 of them.
“[Mullen’s] light’s out,” Frain said. “He’s been standing on his head pretty much. I told him today that he has done a phenomenal job so far, and to keep it up. We’re going to fix our defensive zone situation and give you some help. But he’s been our key to our three victories, my hats off to him, he’s been playing great and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Mullen himself, has been modest throughout his recent hot streak, and wasn’t any different today.
“I thought I played OK,” Mullen said. “Always improvements to be made, but most importantly we got it done and brought home the win in the shootout.
Up next for Mullen and the Owls, they will travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions Saturday at 3:15 p.m.