Despite its winning record, the men’s ice hockey team has fallen short in a significant area.
Temple (3-4) is 10 for 30 on the power play through five games and has struggled to set up the man-advantage at times.
One example of the team’s struggles was when they went 1-for-5 on the power play during the City 6 championship game against Drexel on Sept. 28.
“I think sometimes they are rushing a little bit,” coach Ryan Frain said. “When they get the puck they are kind of going right to the net instead of putting on the breaks and waiting for everyone else from the power play unit to enter the zone and get in position.”
During last Wednesday’s practice, two of the main focuses were puck retrieval and getting bodies in front of the net.
Frain let his players know that he did not care about them scoring as much as he cared about his power play guys outnumbering the penalty killers in the corners. Once they did have possession of the puck, he stressed the fact that bodies had to be in front of the goalie.
Forward Dave Brewer agrees with Frain and referenced a play in the Drexel game when Malinowski scored the team’s only goal when screening the Dragons’ net minder.
“I think that is what we need to focus on,” Brewer said. “Getting traffic in front so we can give the guys up top a shot on net and have the guy in front be able to get the rebound and put it in.”
Brewer has shifted to the top of the key in addition to forward Greg Malinowski moving down near the goal crease. Freshman Ryan Dumbach takes over at center and fellow underclassman Devon Thomas joins Malinowski in front of the crease.
The line shakeup is due to vacant spots left by forwards Joe Pisko, Phillip Vassilev and defenseman John Anthony after last season.
“We have a couple rookies on our power play and we are lacking a little chemistry, but we are kind of like a new group,” forward Dave Brewer said. “Everyone is trying to get accustomed to their position and get used to working with each other right now.”
The team’s first line of forwards Stephen Kennedy, Cody Vassa, Brady O’Donnell, along with defensemen Jason Lombardi and Patrick Hanrahan have played together for a year.
Six of the team’s seven power play goals belong to the group, with Kennedy leading them with three goals, but Vassa notes there is always room for improvement.
“We hope to help the team as much as possible when given the chances to produce on the power play,” Vassa said.
Even with the team’s woes in front of the net on the power play, Frain is still encouraged by the 24 opportunities the team has forced.
“I am willing to bet that 99 percent of the time, the team that drew the penalty was the one that was working harder than the other,” Frain said. “That’s always a good thing when you can draw a penalty from hard work. I totally believe that in this league special teams win hockey games. That is at every level.”
Stephen Godwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @StephenGodwinJr