By Tom Albano
The Rider hockey team (6-4-1, 1-2, MACHA) is preparing for its upcoming games against Bryn Athyn on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Loucks Ice Center and St. Joseph’s on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Philadelphia.
The Broncs are coming into this game after losses to the University of Delaware and Temple, snapping a five-game winning streak.
Senior forward Frank Garvey thinks that if the Broncs could have taken advantage of scoring opportunities, they would have walked away with two wins.
“During the game against Delaware, we had plenty of chances during the game but could not capitalize on them,” Garvey said. “The first period of the Temple game was very slow on our side. There was no passion. The team seemed very tired and this resulted in a 3-0 deficit going into the second period. We played two periods while they played three, essentially.”
Head Coach Sean Levin agreed that there were errors — both mental and physical — that hurt the team in these two games.
“Delaware scored first and we were unable to respond,” Levin said. “Once Delaware scored again we began to press. We made mental mistakes that led to Delaware goals. Temple came out strong and the ice was tilted most of the first period. We can’t expect to beat good teams when going down early and playing from behind most of the game. We didn’t lose this game on a bad bounce but because of our poor play early on in the game.”
Levin says, however, that the team will be back on the ice soon to prepare for its next games.
“It all starts in practice,” Levin said. “This will be our first practice since Oct. 24 so we have plenty of things to work on. This is no excuse for our poor performance last weekend, but I’m expecting a different Rider team this weekend. We’re going to have two up-tempo practices this week to ensure we are ready for the weekend.”
With the playoffs starting in February, the team is planning to make sure it will have a spot, which has been a goal for the whole season, according to Levin. His message to the team has been that playoff positions are earned and not given.
“Just because we’ve made the playoffs the last few years doesn’t mean we can expect to be there in February,” Levin said. “It’s going to take hard work from all 30 guys to make the playoffs. We’re currently dealing with injuries to many of our leaders and looking for some of the younger guys to step up.”
The team has shifted its focus, trying to forget last weekend’s losses and focus on this weekend’s games against Bryn Athyn and St. Joseph’s.
“We work hard to prepare for every game as if it were against a top-ranked team,” Levin said. “We need to capitalize on our scoring chances in order to have a successful weekend. Having a good first period will be one of our main goals this weekend.”
It ultimately comes down to strong play and focus for the team for the duration of the game, according to Garvey.
“All three periods are essential to a victory and traditionally, Rider takes a period to wake up,” Garvey said. “If we play ‘Rider hockey’ all three periods of the game, there aren’t a lot of teams out there that can stop us.”
Levin expects his Broncs to move on and focus on the games on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10.
“We’ve already turned the page on last weekend’s performance,” he said. “I’m expecting a totally different team this weekend.”