Club ice hockey’s two junior co-captains, Ryan Trefz and Charles Ghiazza, have guided the Owls through a rough start to the season to the cusp of a playoff spot.
Temple has won three of its past four games, including two overtime victories.
This record shows how far they’ve come since the Owls faced significant adversity earlier this season. Several players were injured at the beginning of the season, including junior starting goaltender Ben Auerbach from Oct. 5 to Nov. 17, 2018, and the team dropped 13 straight games. The stretch included two games each against Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association leaders Drexel and West Chester University.
Trefz mostly captains the defensemen, while Ghiazza captains the forwards. The two are Risk Management and Insurance majors and have known each other since they tried out for the club team in 2016. Since then, they have both become officers of the club with Ghiazza as the president and Trefz as the vice president.
“It’s a good dynamic because we’re good friends,” Trefz said. “At first, some guys were surprised, but it has fit with our team because Charles and I work well together.”
Even though Ghiazza and Trefz focus on different parts of the team, they do not find it hard to lead the team as a whole. Ghiazza has the knowledge and wherewithal to lead the team in Trefz’s absence, like on Saturday, because he’s played defense in the past.
“A lot of teams would have given up, and kids would have been quitting if they had lost this many games,” Trefz said. “I’m proud of our team for sticking together during this time.”
Despite the rough start, the Owls have been able to rebound and play their way into playoff position.
The main focus for the captains during that stretch was emphasizing that as a team we could be better and needed to be in order to win,” Auerbach said. “Just because things weren’t going our way didn’t mean we would turn on each other and lose sight of why we play to begin with.”
From Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, they reeled off three consecutive victories. Trefz and Ghiazza each had three points in the first win of the streak, a 6-3 victory against Penn State Berks. In the last game of the streak, Ghiazza scored one minute, 28 seconds into overtime in the Owls’ 3-2 win against Navy.
“We always knew we had the potential to succeed and make the playoffs,” Ghiazza said. “We tried to keep a positive attitude and help our team stay positive during that time. But now we have been able to realize that potential.”
During Temple’s three-game winning streak, Ghiazza recorded three goals and one assist. In the past five games, he has eight points on six goals and two assists.
But for both players, captaincy extends even further than leading the team or playing on the ice. When the team was moving to its current home at the Rink on Old York Road in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, the captains spent their summers renovating the locker room themselves and transporting the team’s equipment to the rink.
“We don’t have an executive board like other teams do,” Trefz said. “We have student officers in every position so that we can influence every area of the program. This has allowed us to shape it into what we want.”
They hope being able to shape the program will lead to success in the playoffs this season, where they would likely face either Drexel or West Chester.
Temple will play Villanova on Friday at Hatfield Ice Arena in Radnor, Pennsylvania. While a win doesn’t automatically qualify the Owls for the playoffs, it does increase their chances.
“We know each game is going to be a battle, and we’re going to put forward our effort against their best effort,” Ghiazza said. “The last time we played them, a few of our players were out. Now, we’re healthy and ready to give it all we’ve got.”
Editor’s Note: Co-Sports Editor Michael Zingrone is a broadcaster for the club ice hockey team. He played no part in the reporting or editing of this story.