Ice hockey seeks to return to winning ways with MACH playoff berth clinched

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The Rowan men’s ice hockey team (Division I) has returned from its short break, and are now focused on redeeming itself from the two-loss weekend they suffered late in November.

After an encouraging start to the month, Rowan slipped and dropped two straight against Army and the University of Delaware.

“We don’t look back. We make adjustments, and head into this weekend knowing we could have won those games,” head coach John Caulfield said. “Use [those last two games] as a teaching point.”

One reason Rowan should not look back on that weekend with disappointment is the fact that they gained a spot in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey playoffs for the eighth time in the past decade.

After taking Army into overtime, the Profs collected the point they needed to get their shot at the championship.

“We clinched a playoff spot,” Caulfield said. “That is important. Despite the two-loss weekend.”

During the winless weekend, though, the Profs allowed 11 combined goals. They had surrendered just 13 goals over their six previous contests.

Nothing “earth shattering” will change, but adjustments will have to be made.
“We will re-emphasize D-zone commitment to get our focus back. Try to get back to a nice balance,” Caulfield said.

Balance is what led the Profs to their impressive 9-3 start, even during what is considered a “rebuilding” year. But what is imperative now for the Profs is to not let their mistakes build up as any discord in a young locker room could be hazardous.

While Rowan has to rebound from these two losses, the team cannot get complacent now that they’ve secured a spot in the postseason.

For Caulfield, though, it’s something he recognizes, and can look to some of the veterans of the program to aid in guiding the young players through the high and lows of the season.

“We are fortunate in that we have some upperclassmen in key roles,” Caulfield said. “[They have] experience they can share to get the room right. Keep things in perspective.”

Coming up for the Profs are matchups against University of Maryland on Dec. 5 and University of Maryland-Baltimore County on Dec. 6.

Maryland, who sits in the basement of the MACH South division, is a team that will be carrying a load of confidence into Saturday’s game against Rowan. The Terrapins have won each of their last three games in convincing fashion.

“This game comes down to us remaining disciplined, staying out of penalty trouble and utilizing our speed,” Caulfield said.

Keeping themselves out of the penalty box has been an issue for the Profs throughout the season. As a team, they have 231 total penalty minutes in just 860 regular season minutes.

UMBC will challenge Rowan with its deep bench and forwards that are capable of doing serious damage. The UMBC Retrievers’ top scorer is forward Ryan Atkinson, who has 32 points in 17 games. For comparison, Rowan’s top scorer, forward Alekos Polis, has 17 points.

The Retrievers’ last four opponents have not been able to stop them from finding the net, as UMBC has gone on to average just under four goals per game in that span. This is the same team that began its season with a 13-0 rout over Georgetown University on Sept. 18.

“We have to get a full buy-in on the game plan, and we absolutely have to stay out of the box,” Caulfield said.

This weekend’s set of games will be prove to be a quality test of the Profs’ resiliency.

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