The ice hockey team put on a show at Penn last week.
Six different Owls scored goals, the freshmen goalie duo of Chris Mullen and Blake Huttner registered a shutout and the team put on a dominant offensive display en route to a 9-0 rout on Wednesday.
“What was exciting about this [win] was that we were healthy for the first time this semester,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “[We] were able to get offensive production from multiple lines.”
The Owls’ offensive performance was the second-highest scoring outing of the season and also the second-largest margin of victory. The Owls beat Monmouth University, 12-1, in October.
Senior forwards Ryan Frain and Steve Danno and sophomore forward Joe Pisko each had two goals and two assists. Senior forward Jim McKenzie, sophomore forward Nick McMahon and senior defenseman Steve Fries all added goals for the Owls.
The pair of Mullen and Huttner was a change of pace as Owls’ junior goalie Will Neifeld has played in 22 of the team’s 27 games, but Huttner and Mullen played outstandingly.
They had a virtual split of time on the ice, and Mullen had 12 saves on 12 shots to go along with Huttner’s nine saves on nine shots to complete the combined shutout.
“The change in goal was to give Will Neifeld a night off,” Roberts said. “We wanted to have Mullen and Huttner split the game so they could both see some action before playoffs.”
The nine-point blowout was a departure from the norm of the Temple and Penn rivalry. The two teams have been evenly matched over the past 10 years, and they split their season series last year, 1-1.
“Penn is in the middle of a rebuilding season,” Roberts said. “We look forward to continuing this rivalry and Penn making improvements to their club. We expect to see a return of the close battles that we’re used to having with them.”
The Owls are now 20-7 overall and have won six of their last eight games. They are currently ranked sixth in the southeastern region in Division II of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. After the conference tournament from Feb. 18-20, the National playoffs begin.
“On any given night, we can have three different lines that can score goals,” Roberts said. “[We] hope that our depth will be a contributing factor in helping us win games in late February.”
The playoffs consist of two sections: nationals and regionals. The top two teams ranked in each of the four ACHA conferences (Northeast, Southeast, Central, West) get an automatic bid to nationals while teams ranked 3-10 battle for spots at regionals.
The Owls will have to fight for a bid to nationals at the southeast division’s regional tournament at Temple’s home ice, the Northeast Skate Zone, taking place from Feb. 25-27. The top two teams at the end of each regional tournament will join the other eight teams with automatic bids for a 16-team tournament at nationals.
Temple ice hockey has made it to regionals in each of the past four years and has been knocked out on the first day each time. Its dominating performance against Penn gives the team hope to change things this year.
“One of the biggest factors that can help you win playoff games is depth,” Roberts said. “In preparing to play us, teams can’t just focus on one line. It should make us very difficult to beat in the playoffs.”