The Rowan Division II ice hockey team had a shot at cementing themselves as one of the true contenders in the region during their recent trip to the Ohio Showcase.
Instead, they succumbed to the perils of extended travel and top-flight challengers.
“Missed opportunity,” head coach John Caulfield said. “Playing two top-10 teams we could’ve helped solidify our spot in the top-10. We’re young and we need to learn how to win tough games, especially on the road. The road hasn’t been kind.”
The road woes for the Profs (10-5) have been an issue that has hamstrung them all season, and their most recent trip to the Midwest was just as unkind.
It was supposed to be a weekend when Rowan would prove to their future playoff opponents that their youth is a non-issue and that they’re a legitimate threat.
However, their inexperience and inability to gain early advantages in contests became problems that were too difficult to overcome.
In their weekend opener against the University of Louisville, the Profs found themselves in a similar situation to what they were in the prior weekend – in an early hole while on the road.
Not even 11 minutes went by before the Cardinals had the multi-goal advantage. After the early deficit, Caulfield echoed a thought similar to the one he had last week.
“I love that we believe there is no hole we can’t climb out from, I wish we would stop getting into those holes though,” he said. “But we never stop playing hard, no quit in this group.”
The brown and gold’s early slump ended up being too much for them come back from, as they lost 5-3. They were “a hair off” all game, according to Caulfield, and their power play could not generate any points despite Louisville taking six trips to the penalty box.
During the second game of the showcase against Ohio University, Rowan finally found themselves connecting on a power play goal when sophomore forward Sam Meyer netted one for the Profs. Meyer was one of the players Caulfield highlighted after the weekend for his contributions.
On the flip side of the special teams, though, was the Profs’ penalty killing unit. Rowan could not stop hindering themselves during the third period when they picked up four separate penalties, one of which led to the 4-3 Ohio game winner with just over five minutes left in regulation.
“Penalty trouble late ended up costing us the game,” Caulfield said. “Penalty minutes continue to haunt us.”
By the time the Profs got to the end of the week and saw Dayton University, they had no other option but to win a game. An eight hour trip must be rewarded with at least one victory.
Rowan was able to make the Flyers uncomfortable by dictating the pace of the game and playing a commanding four-line game of hockey.
The major difference in the dominating 4-1 win over Dayton ultimately was the brown and gold getting an early lead of their own.
“Scoring first helps,” Caulfield said. “We seem to play better when we get the first goal of the game. Also, when we use our speed to set the game’s pace we do better. If we let the game come to us we aren’t as effective.”
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