The Rowan D-II ice hockey team was expected to walk into Saturday night’s game and get into a high-scoring slugfest with the University of Maryland.
This game was anything but.
After 60 minutes of play, the Profs skated off the ice with no goals to their credit as they lost their first game of the season by a final score of 1-0.
“It’s only the third game of the season,” said head coach John Caulfield. “We’ll find ways to recover from it and take the lessons learned here and apply them going forward.”
The Terrapins scored early on with a goal from forward Chris Bouchard. Afterwards, Profs goaltender Justin Natiello settled in and looked like business as usual, as he didn’t allow anything by him for the rest of the game.
Just like in the season opener, Natiello was locked in after allowing an early goal, but he says he doesn’t do it on purpose.
“That’s not what I want to happen,” Natiello said. “It was one of those bounces. I played the puck and it hit their guy and bounced over me. It was an unfortunate bounce but it definitely woke me up.”
Natiello’s opponent in Maryland’s net was Travis Danko, who easily covered the opening with his 6-foot-5-inch frame.
Natiello is eight inches smaller, but didn’t let the size of the dog in the fight intimidate him.
“I would love to have that size, but I’ve adjusted being 5’9”,” Natiello said. “I have to be more aggressive than him since he doesn’t have to move much to block the net. I have to get down more.”
The other eye-popping aspect of the game besides the lack of scoring from Rowan came from the team’s lack of speed, discipline and communication.
Throughout most of the game, the Profs were giving the puck away in neutral ice, looking out of formation and at times, running into their own players. They were beaten to the puck in the dirty parts of the ice all night and Maryland consistently beat them down in transition.
“I can’t tell how fast we were because we weren’t moving all that much,” Caulfield said. “We came out flat, but with a young team like ours, this is a great learning experience because these are scenarios you can’t recreate in practice.”
The Profs had a quick turnaround as they got on the bus for their first road game of the season in Staten Island against Wagner College on Sunday afternoon. After defeating them in the season opener, the Profs lost the second matchup 4-3.
Rowan return home on Saturday with a 2-2 record as they face Army at 8:15 p.m. Caulfield had some words of advice for his players to ensure the same performance from the Maryland game doesn’t happen again.
“We did a lot of watching and hoping,” Caulfield said. “You can’t play a game by watching and you definitely can’t win by hoping.”
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