Broncs clinch second place for postseason

Freshman Ryan Gifford fired in one of Rider’s eight goals against Penn. The Broncs shut out the Quakers to lock up second place for the playoffs and Gifford now has three goals in league play.By David Pavlak
It was another strong outing for the Rider ice hockey team as they took on Penn and East Stroudsburg (ESU) last weekend. With a win against Penn, Rider would clinch second place in the Freedom Division, and that’s exactly what the Broncs did, pounding the Quakers 8-0. Two days later, Rider out battled ESU for a 5-3 victory.
Rider opened the scoring just a little over a minute into the game against Penn and never looked back. Senior Derek D’eAndino, freshman Ryan Gifford, senior George Helock and freshman Frank Garvey all scored goals, while senior captain Nick Savaiano netted three goals and two assists on the night. Senior Tom D’Aurizio also played well, putting together a five point night with a goal and four assists.
“Going into the Penn game, we knew we were the better team,” D’Aurizio said. “We had a lot to play for because the win clinched us second place for the playoffs, so we wanted to jump on them early and never look back.”
After decisively taking care of Penn, Rider came back to Loucks Ice Center to take on ESU. Rider jumped on the Warriors quickly, scoring two goals within the first two minutes and took a good lead into the beginning of the second period. ESU didn’t sit idle, however, as they came out aggressive, scoring a pair of goals themselves.
“We do have a tendency to play to the level of competition,” said Head Coach Ted Gerry. “ESU is a much better team than we had expected.”
When Rider saw what it was up against and that ESU was picking up momentum, the Broncs put their heads down and began to work hard, starting with junior goaltender Joe Nalbone who turned away 34 of 37 shots. Garvey, senior Brian Folkes, and junior D.J. Nork each scored a goal, while D’Aurizio added two, putting the game out of reach for ESU.
With these two wins, Rider ends the regular season 15-10-1 overall and 9-6-1 in the conference, as it awaits the start of the playoffs. Tonight, on home ice, will be the first game for Rider against Penn State at 9:15 p.m. Defense will be crucial during the playoffs.
“Defense is something that the coaches and we as a team have been focusing on all year,” Nalbone said. “The key for us in the playoffs is to continue being strong in our zone. If we can keep the opposing team to the outside and limit their chances, then our offense will take care of the rest.”
Being hot at the right time doesn’t hurt either. Rider has only lost one game in its past six.
“I don’t see any other team in the league that is hotter than us,” D’Aurizio said. “Hopefully we can make it all the way to the finals and bring a MACHA championship back to Rider.”
With their hopes riding high, the team takes to the ice, trying to fulfill the opportunity that it has worked so hard to achieve.

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