By David Pavlak
After a disappointing showing the previous week, it was imperative that the Rider hockey team (14-4) got back on track to its winning ways, and it did just that as it faced off against Saint Joseph’s (SJU) (5-7-2) and Princeton (7-8), winning 6-4 and 10-2, respectively.
These strong performances prepared the Broncs for their Massachusetts trip this coming weekend in Boston, where they will square off against Holy Cross (5-9) and Roger Williams University (5-6). Although both teams’ records do not seem to indicate it, the two teams Rider will face are stronger than they appear, as both have been playing very difficult schedules.
“We’re looking for two wins,” said head coach Ted Gerry. “We have a team this year that can go up against the best of the best. This road trip will be against some of the top teams, and that’s who we want to play. We have already had one practice before the break to prepare and this week we will have two more. One of our goals going into this year was to qualify for Regionals. A strong showing against these two top teams will help us reach our goal.”
The discipline instilled by Gerry was on display this previous weekend with the two victories over the Hawks and Tigers. Rider outscored the Hawks 6-2 through two periods of play, dominating much of the game.
Sophomore Frank Garvey scored two goals through those periods, while a host of other Broncs tallied one each. Saint Joseph’s would make the game interesting, but never got close enough to walk away with the victory. Senior goaltender Joseph Nalbone finished the game with 39 saves, and leads the ACHA in minutes played for a goaltender.
“We had a huge weekend last week beating SJU and Princeton, and we need to carry that into this weekend on the road,” said Rider alumnus and practice coach Tom D’Aurizio.
With the first win out of the way, the Broncs traveled to Baker Rink at Princeton to take on the Tigers, which would prove to be an easier victory than the night before. Garvey scored a hat trick through two periods, while junior Connor Dragone scored a pair. Garvey added one more in the third period and four other players chipped in with a goal apiece.
“We are very confident in ourselves as a team, we have great chemistry on and off the ice and we go into games expecting to win, and I think that makes for a very tough team to beat,” said Garvey.
With the second half of the season coming up, the Broncs need to remain as sharp as they are now.
“Having games against good competition toward the end of the year is great, because it gears us up for the playoffs,” said D’Aurizio. “When you get to the playoffs, there is no such thing as a mediocre team. It’s top-notch college hockey.”
The Broncs will face off against Holy Cross at 7 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Roger Williams at 2 p.m. on Sunday.