Prior to game time, coach Jerry Roberts felt Temple’s conference matchup with the University of Maryland was one his team had to win.
“This is a game that we should win and game that we have to win,” Roberts said. “We can’t afford to lose this game.”
Unfortunately for Roberts and the rest of the Temple ice hockey squad, all didn’t go as planned Friday as the Owls fell to Maryland by a 4-2 score.
Freshman forward Cody Vassa gave Temple an early 1-0 advantage late in the first period for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
Though the scoreboard would not show it, the first period belonged to the Owls as they dominated possession from the start.
“From the first shift, we came out and we were taking it to them right off the draw,” senior defenseman Andrew Trainor said. “That’s how the whole first period went. In the second period, we came out expecting to walk all over them as we had in the first and we got stuck in our own zone a little too much and had some bad bounces go against us. After the first goal, they had two quick ones and just like that we were down 3-1. It took all of the momentum that we had away from us.”
The game’s second period proved to be fatal for Temple, as Maryland tallied three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 advantage into the final period. The Owls never recovered, as the Terapins would add one in the third to make it a 4-1 contest. A last-second goal from Trainor just before the final horn capped the scoring.
“We lost the game in that second period,” Roberts said. “We outplayed them in first and third periods, but if you don’t play the full 60 minutes you’re not going to win and that’s what happened tonight.”
“That period was bad all around,” senior defenseman Matt Benedetto said. “We got away from the game plan and we got on our heels a little. We weren’t doing all that poorly, but we had a few bad bounces go against us and everything kind of snowballed from there.”
For the Owls, breaking out from the defensive to offensive zones was something that was heavily worked on in practice heading into Friday’s game. While Temple initially made progress with the breakout in the first period, all rhythm and momentum gathered in the first period disappeared in the game’s next period of play.
“The first shift was perfect,” Trainor said. “We got control of the puck right right away, got a shot and they cleared it down. We had a perfect breakout from there and off that shift, everything kept rolling. We just opened up the second period with that same confidence and we just didn’t show up. It was too little too late in the third [period].”
Heading into an away matchup with top conference rival Penn State on Nov. 8, Roberts knows the reversal effect that a win in State College can provide.
“Penn state presents us with an opportunity to reverse the damages that were done today,” Roberts said. “There’s still about one-third left in the season and this game is not going to be what makes or breaks us moving forward. But it is a step backwards and we have to bounce back next week.”
With the loss, the Owls dropped to 12-8 overall, and 5-5 in Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association play.
Senior forward Chris Brennan left the game due to concussion symptoms received after a hard hit. He will not play next week.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @daParent93