Sophomore goalie Ben Auerbach made 52 saves as Temple beat Penn State Berks 5-2 on Friday.
Senior forward Joey Powell recorded a hat-trick and an assist to help Temple (9-11-2, 2-5 Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association) secure its third win in its past four games to end the fall semester.
Powell has 14 points in his past five games, giving him 37 points on the season. Powell is second on the team in points behind freshman forward Brendan Ondick, who has 42 points after recording two assists on Saturday.
“This was our best game all year,” Powell said. “We have been clicking these past few games, so we wanted to end the first half of the season on a positive note. So these two points were huge.”
Thirty-eight seconds into the game, Powell started his four-point night with a neutral zone stretch pass leading senior defenseman Ryan Dumbach into the offensive zone. After a quick give-and-go play with freshman forward Eric DiPretoro, Dumbach beat sophomore goalie Trent Bogert on the short side for his 10th goal of the season.
Seven seconds later, Penn State Berks junior forward Jesse Abarca answered with his own goal by tucking home a rebound to tie the score at one.
Abarca’s goal was one of the few rebounds Auerbach surrendered against the Nittany Lions. Despite getting outshot 54-38, Temple prevented the Nittany Lions from getting “high-level scoring opportunities,” Auerbach said.
With just more than three minutes to go in the second period, sophomore defenseman Ryan Trefz received an interference penalty as the Owls led 3-1. Penn State Berks then went on the power play, however, Auerbach kept the Nittany Lions off the board.
Thirty seconds into the powerplay, freshman defenseman Matt Hucker broke his stick, which left him unable to block passing lanes. Penn State Berks crossed the puck to Hucker’s side, but Auerbach made a quick post-to-post save on Abarca’s one-time attempt to preserve the two-goal lead.
“Our defense did a good job clearing the ice up in front of me,” Auerbach said. “I was able to see the puck well tonight, and if I didn’t see the puck, our guys would block the shot. When they play like that for me, I owe them nothing but coming up big when I have to. ”
“I rather not give up 54 shots,” coach Mark Spease said. “But Ben has been a real rock for this team. We can always count on him to fight his hardest every game he is in net. He was the main reason we were able to get the win.”
Powell scored his first goal of the night by deflecting freshman defenseman Ian Bolles’ point shot midway through the second period.
Powell scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season, both on the power play, in the third period. Both goals were in the first six minutes of the period to gave the Owls a 5-1 lead.
“Joey has been playing well these last few games,” Spease said. “I just put the line of him, Ondick and DiPretoro back together over this final stretch, and that is our top line. Their talent together gives me [the] mindset that we can put up 10 goals any night.”
The Owls’ penalty kill went 5-for-6 on the night.
“I do not want to say this, but I don’t mind when we are shorthanded,” Spease said. “Our penalty kill has been the bright spot of this team all year. We have around 10 short-handed goals on the year, and teams have trouble scoring on us when we are down.”
After Temple’s victory against Penn State Berks, the Owls will have off until the spring semester. Both Spease and Powell said the break could be coming at the wrong time.
Spease said that the break will come with a reward because he will have six returning players to insert into the lineup. He added the third and fourth line could look different after the break.
The Owls will be back in action against William Paterson University on Jan. 12, 2018, at the Ice Vault Rink in Wayne, New Jersey.
“After that Drexel game, we were able to calm down and right the ship,” Spease said. “Everyone is slowly learning the ins and outs of our system, and the team as a whole is building their chemistry. I would like to ride the hot hand for a little, but all we can do is go home, relax and be ready to go come January.”
“We hope this break doesn’t stop our momentum,” Powell said. “But if we take care of ourselves and come back January with rested bodies and the same mindset, we can make a serious run to finish the year.”