After losing in the first round of the regionals and the second round of the MACHA playoffs, the ice hockey club team hired alum Jerry Roberts.
While the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers opened their season with a 2-0 shutout last Friday, another Philly hockey team, Temple’s ice hockey club team, kicked off its season with a 5-0 win over The College of New Jersey.
The win marked not only the team’s first win of this season but also the first win for new coach, Jerry Roberts. Roberts is a Temple alumnus who played club ice hockey. He said it was a natural fit to coach here.
“I take a lot of pride in the program and in Temple University,” Roberts said. “It was a very easy choice.”
Roberts played for the team when it won three straight Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association (MACHA) championships from 2003 to 2005 and served as a scout under the previous coaching staff while also coaching area youth hockey teams.
“There were a lot of question marks coming into the season, but I think he’s handling it very well,” senior forward and captain Mike Roeding said. “He’s got the right attitude, and guys have taken to his philosophies.”
Roberts’ style differs drastically from the previous regime, which placed heavy emphasis on set plays and forechecks.
“That may be good for a professional or semi-pro team, but for us, it didn’t work all of the time, and the philosophy of this coach now is about reading and reacting,” Roeding said.
The new freewheeling style of play allowed the Owls to dismantle the Lions quickly in the first period, which featured goals from Roeding and sophomores Taylor Lockhart and Patrick McHugh. In the second period, sophomore Jordan Lawrence netted a goal, and senior Ryan Frain put an exclamation point on the night by scoring on a breakaway. The defense killed five penalties, including a five-on-three in the second period. Senior goalie Mark Berkheimer stopped 31 shots en route to the win.
“What we were looking for tonight was a lot of intensity and a lot of effort because at the beginning of the season, our passing wasn’t down yet, and there’s a summer’s worth of rust built up,” Roberts said. “Of the things that we can control like effort and intensity, we did that very well, and that’s what gave us the win.”
“We didn’t have anything set in place,” Roeding added. “We handled their forecheck very well, and we broke out nicely.”
As the season progresses, Roberts said he and the older players have to work on developing the younger players. The current team makeup features more seniors and juniors than sophomores and freshmen.
“It’s like you have two polar opposites. We have a lot of senior talent at the top and young talent at the bottom,” Roberts said. “We need those older guys to help bring the younger players along.”
The younger players already appear poised to inherit the team, as three sophomores scored in Temple’s win over TCNJ.
“As far as taking in the leadership from the senior guys, I think they’ve been doing a really good job with that,” Roeding said. “They know their role on the team, and it’s been coming together nicely.”
Last year’s squad lost in the second round of the MACHA playoffs and subsequently exited the regional championship in the first round.
“We still expect to be a contender within our conference, and we expect to make a showing at regionals,” Roberts said. “Hopefully, we learned something from last year, and we’ll do better this year.”
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.