The Ice Lions ripped out the Profs’ hearts in an overtime thriller on Friday, Sept. 23, at Hollydell Ice Arena. The DII Rowan men’s ice hockey team dropped the puck for their home opener and season opener against the DI Penn State Ice Lion in what was an absolute battle. The Profs never gave up as they fought back, but ultimately fell 4-3 in overtime.
While this is the first of a home series against the Ice Lions, the Profs wanted to get back at it quickly.
“We have to keep staying hungry,” Head Coach Dan DiMonte said. “We have a lot of mouths to feed and on any given night, anyone can make the difference. On most nights, one guy might be on or most guys will be on. When all lines are on, we are going to be a dangerous team.”
The Ice Lions brought out a really aggressive forecheck early into the first period and the Profs couldn’t move the puck in their own zone without being hit by two Ice Lions at a time.
Graduate student goalie Kyle Rink remained strong throughout the game, as the Ice Lions pelted Rink with pucks but Rink was a brick wall. Teammate Jimmy Pollock had nothing but praise for his netminder.
“I think he has been working really hard at practice and it really paid off,” Pollock said. “I thought he looked really good in the game on Friday. It was just a few unlucky bounces and that is the way hockey goes sometimes. I think he really deserved that start.”
With 13:35 left in the first period, the Profs were able to really establish their forecheck and forced a turnover in the Ice Lion’s own defensive end. Rookie Corey Owens had the puck come right to him to the left of the net in front of the Penn State goalie. As Owens turned, he fired it past the goalie to go far side and score his first of his collegiate career goal, putting Rowan on top 1-0.
This next period started very similarly to the last with the Ice Lions coming out of the gate aggressively. With 13:14 left in the period, Ice Lions’ Brendan Meyer put the puck past Rink for the first time in the matchup.
At 12:59, a shot from the point came in on the power play from the Ice Lions. While Rink made the initial save, Alec Connoly was there on the far side where the puck was tossed and was able to bat it out of mid air to give the Ice Lions a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the Ice Lions went back to work on the power play. With 6:03 to play in the second, a shot deflected by the left faceoff circle and Meyer was able to net his second of the game.
The Profs went on a power play of their own 30 seconds later and were able to cut the lead to 3-2.
Going into the third period, the Profs really began to turn the tide of this game, and at 6:21 Jake McDonald was able to bang home the third goal of the night, and the tying goal which would force overtime.
At the end of regulation three-on-three hockey was set to get underway and the Profs seemed to have all the momentum. They had a couple of high-danger chances on the net, but were unable to finish.
The Ice Lions’ Ryan Long was able to get a break out play as Paul Keyes was in great defensive positioning to stop the drive, but Long made a great move throwing the puck under Keyes stick and windmilling his own to walk past Keyes. Long then went from right to left on Rink and put the puck in the back of the net to take the victory.
“Its a shame, the only goal of the game he [Rink] could have had back was that last one,” Coach DiMonte said. “Kyle [Rink] is a fifth year graduate student, it is what we expect out of him playing against Penn State in his final home opener. We expect nothing less.”
Alongside Rink, Pollock thinks the rest of the team played well but could have always been better, and had this message to his teammate after the game.
“It’s always tough to lose the home opener and first game of the year to a rival like Penn State. I think we have a great group of guys who can bounce back,” Pollock said. “In the locker room after the game, myself and a couple of the older guys told everyone to forget about this game and move on to the next one.”
Coach DiMonte also had a message for his team after the game.
“Stay the course,” Coach DiMonte said. “I think we played well at times and I think we lacked in the second period. We scored two goals to bring it to overtime. Now it’s just about clicking and getting those first game jitters out of the way.”
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