Any time a team has the chance to steal a win on the road is a welcomed opportunity.
The Rowan Division II ice hockey team (9-3) was able to do just that during one of the more challenging weekends on their schedule. The Profs were tasked with traveling to Virginia and battling two perennial playoff teams, Virginia Tech and Liberty University. They came out on top 4-2 in the first game, but were bested 10-7 in the second.
“It’s a good weekend to grab a split on the road,” head coach John Caulfield said. “I thought overall we played well. We certainly don’t quit.”
It was a weekend that required the Profs to come back from a deficit in each game, and though they only picked up one win, they displayed a deft ability of mounting a comeback.
The brown and gold were swiftly put in a 2-0 hole within the first 11 minutes of the opening period against Virginia Tech (4-6). Just slightly over a minute after the Hokies netted their second goal, however, the Profs began their comeback.
“I like that we don’t fear being in a hole, but I’d prefer we stop finding ourselves in a hole,” Caulfield said.
The four-unanswered-goal stretch for Rowan began during a 17-shot first period, and ended with a goal off senior Alec Nicolai’s stick midway through the second period.
After that it was the stifling Profs defense nullifying the Virginia Tech attack, as well as Rowan sticking to their adjustments and applying their speed to neutralize the Hokies.
It wasn’t until the second game against last year’s national championship runner-ups, Liberty University (8-0), that a Profs’ recovery rally would be futile.
The 10-7 final tally showed a tightly-contested, high-scoring contest. The box score, however, showed a blowout that featured a young team scrapping their way back into relevance in the game.
Just over five and a half minutes into the first period, the Profs were up 2-0 on the Flames, both goals scored within 30 seconds of each other. The outcome was looking bright.
Within 11 minutes, that situation turned from bright to bleak, then bleak to brutal. Liberty snapped off seven consecutive goals between the 14-minute mark of the first period and the four-minute mark of the second period.
“They’re good, very strong,” Caulfield said. “It’s not a mystery why they’re ranked second and were the runner-up at nationals last year.”
The seven-goal run for the Flames, plus the additional goals scored after, were enough to stave off the brown and gold’s second comeback attempt in as many days.
Now with their trip to Virginia behind them, Rowan faces another tough traveling schedule. They head out to Ohio for the Ohio Showcase, where they will play a three-game weekend against the University of Louisville, Ohio University and University of Dayton.
The Profs are ranked sixth in the showcase and open with Louisville and Ohio, the two teams bookending them in the rankings.
“Friday and Saturday is an interesting schedule,” Caulfield said. “Could be a good look at teams that hope to be in the mid 4-10 range of the Southeast Region [of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey playoffs].”
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