In an 8-2 blowout, the Owls were eliminated in the first round of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs by Penn State.
“Obviously this is not the way we wanted to go out,” coach Ryan Frain said.
Despite the game’s result it was actually Temple that got on the board early and took the lead when junior forward Stephen Kennedy scored on a snap shot for his team-leading 32nd goal of the season to put his team up 1-0.
“I just wanted to get in the zone with some speed and take it wide since it was really early in the game,” Kennedy said. “I noticed the ‘D’ backing up and the goalie was leaning to his strong side so I tried getting my shot off quick.”
“It’s every couple of years you find a guy like [Kennedy],” Frain said. “Where basically when he gets his hands on the puck he can do whatever he wants with it. He was awesome all year. He’d be the first to tell you that his teammates helped him out as well. The kid keeps his mouth shut and goes out there and works his ass off.”
But from that point on, it was all downhill for Temple.
Penn State retaliated with two unanswered goals in the rest of the first period – four in the second, and added another two in the third for a total of eight goals.
“We obviously just weren’t mentally focused enough,” senior goaltender Chris Mullen said. “Myself included, it obviously wasn’t one of my best games, and unfortunately it was my last. We looked pretty lackadaisical I thought, but I don’t know … It is what it is.”
Sophomore forward Dave Brewer cut into the lead when he scored before the end of the third period but it was far too little too late as the Owls fell to Penn State 8-2.
The season began with a lot of promise for the Owls. The team considered itself to be the most talented since the Owls went to the American Collegiate Hockey Association national playoffs four years ago, but ended in a way Mullen could summarize in one word: “Dissapointment.”
Friday night’s lost marked the end of the line for the collegiate careers of four Temple seniors – forwards Joe Pisko, Nick McMahon, Steven Luongo, and goaltender Chris Mullen.
For them, Temple ice hockey has been something very special.
“It was great,” Mullen said. “Everyone on the team is like my best friends, they’re my family, and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for everything I’ve gone through with these guys. It was an important part of my life and I think anyone who plays Temple ice hockey will understand that.”
To Frain, losing this group of seniors is especially tough considering they were part of the team that went to the ACHA national playoffs four years ago when Frain was a senior.
“I talked to [the seniors] last night. They are kind of like my little pups if you would want to put it that way,” Frain said. “It was hard for me to stand up there when the third period ended because that’s not the way it should have ended, especially how they sent myself and the rest of my senior class out on top.”
Temple has not made it to the ACHA nationals, let alone regionals, since.
As a first year head coach, Frain is already looking to the improvements he plans on making for his second year at the helm of Temple hockey.
“I think for myself and [assistant coach Trainer] this first year was definitely a learning curve and I told the returners last night in the locker room that a lot of things are going to change next year. We’re going to work just as hard whether we’re 10 games above .500 or 10 games below .500.”
“To be honest I wish next season would start tomorrow,” Frain said.