It was nearly a month and a half between games for the Division II Rowan men’s ice hockey team.
The lengthy layoff finally gave way to a home-and-home series with the University of Maryland. The two squads split the series, as each team got their win on the road.
Despite grabbing a road win, the Profs came back from the break with a little lag in their step.
“The length was a bit much,” head coach John Caulfield said. “We were heavy-legged and rusty.”
In their first contest of 2017, the Profs showed off a moxie that many teams with their amount of experience don’t possess.
Rowan boarded their bus and traveled over two hours to face off with the Terps, but it wasn’t just the travel and hostile arena that was impressive about their bout with Maryland. The brown and gold displayed a deft command over their special teams unit — an important facet of the Profs’ game that Caulfield frequently preaches about to his players.
The brown and gold stymied Maryland on all five of their power play attempts, including one crucial man-advantage in the final five minutes of the game. On the other side of those special teams was an equally impressive showing from the Profs’ power play unit, and it was forwards Aaron Segnello and Sam Meyer who were the beneficiaries of the open ice.
But in the second game of the series at Rowan’s home arena, it was Maryland who was able to exploit the abundance of open ice.
After both teams were whistled for tripping calls — 35 seconds apart from each other — the ice suddenly turned into an NHL version of overtime.
“Three versus three is wide open, anything can happen,” Caulfield said. “Maryland got the better of the chances.”
It was Maryland’s Zach Arden who was able to put the puck past Rowan’s Cody Reilly for the game winner, and get retribution for his team just one day later.
Now two games into the second portion of their season, the Profs should have shaken off any remaining rust from the extended vacation. In their next game with Penn State, anything but elite play from the team will greatly hinder their chances at a win.
“Penn State is one of the best teams in the country. They will be a tough game,” Caulfield said. “We will have to be ready to go Saturday.”
Penn State was the last game the Profs played before their break, and it was a monstrous 5-0 victory for the Nittany Lions. While Caulfield often states his own team’s speed as their go-to game plan, the head coach noted the strategy for Penn State will be different.
“Our plan is to slow them down in our end and break their rhythm,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Profs, their schedule doesn’t get any kinder after Penn State.
After Saturday night’s game they’ll make the voyage to the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey’s back-to-back champion’s house at the University of Delaware, a team Caulfield calls “fast and relentless.”
“This weekend will be playoff tempo and quality against two top teams. We have to be ready,” Caulfield said.
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