By Derek Jordan
In a game where no team could get anything going offensively, the club ice hockey team prevailed in a 4-2 victory over TCNJ on Nov. 13 at Loucks Ice Arena.
It was a tight contest all night long, but the Broncs (7-9) had a slow start. With a few early Rider turnovers, the Lions hemmed the Broncs’ defense in their own zone. TCNJ (11-3-1) was rewarded at 6:06 in the first period when Matt Martin deflected a shot from the blue line to put them up 1-0.
The Broncs began to pick up the pace soon after, clearly controlling the play. They got on the forecheck, causing havoc in the offensive zone. A perfect example of this was at 16:09 in the first period, when Chris Johnson caused a turnover in the neutral zone and had a partial breakaway before being stopped by TCNJ goaltender David Laub. The Lions snuck out of the first period with a 1-0 lead.
Rider’s work ethic carried over into the second period, and the Broncs’ puck possession dominated that of the Lions.
At 1:28 in the second period, freshman forward Vincent Arlotta was hit from behind resulting in a five-minute major for boarding against the Lions. This sequence changed the momentum of the game.
The Broncs wasted no time on their power play. At 1:47 in the second period, Connor Fox assisted Andrew Heinz to put them on the board off a wrist shot at the top of the circle, tying the game 1-1.
Rider continued its attack on the power play in the next sequence. In the Broncs’ zone on their power-play breakout, Fox passed to forward Pat Grilli, who skated around the defenseman behind the net and zipped a no-look pass to Chris Daley, who put it home to make it 2-1.
“I was coming off the wall and got a pass from Fox,” Grilli said. “I saw the defense was sort of pinching in on me, so I took it hard to the corner, went around the net and just passed it across back door and Daley was there to put it in.”
Rider was not done on its power play, as it tallied another goal off a pass from Chris Daley to freshman Sean Hart, who took a slap shot at the top of the circle to make it 3-1. The Broncs tallied three goals in three minutes on TCNJ’s five-minute major penalty.
At the start of the third period, the Broncs were still pushing the pace by generating scoring opportunities. They were also playing it safe by not making too many flashy moves in the neutral zone by dumping the puck deep at the red line to avoid icing.
The penalty-killing unit came up huge at the end of the game resulting in a 4-2 win. Rider dominated play, outshooting TCNJ 40-15.
Head Coach Sean Levin knew that the Lions would play aggressively and in order to win, Rider had to match that intensity.
“We knew they would come out pretty heavy with speed and energy so we had to match that,” Levin said. “It took us a little while to match that as we have some trouble at times starting off games. But once we started to lay the body and get into the rhythm of the game, we knew we could tilt the ice and that’s what happened here tonight.”
The Broncs then played Rowan on Nov. 14. Rider opened the game with a goal from Connor Fox, assisted by Johnson with 7:54 remaining in the first period. The Profs, however, tied the game up with less than three seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Broncs then got into trouble in the following period when they received a penalty with 11:42 remaining. Rowan took advantage and scored just 52 seconds into the power play. The Profs then scored again to make the score 3-1.
Rowan would ultimately take the game by a score of 4-2.
Their next series of games will take place from Nov. 20-22. The first game on the 20th will be home against Delaware, then they’ll play Wagner at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey the following night. They also host NYU on the 22nd.