By Jake Tiger
In a valiant, two-way display of its skills, Rider club ice hockey handily vanquished the Drexel Dragons, claiming a pair of wins and outscoring them 14-2 across back-to-back games on Oct. 14 and 15th.
Rider’s weekend saw a 5-0 shutout victory in Ice Land on its Pink in the Rink night, before hitting the road just to slay the Dragons a second time by a score of 9-2.
Pink in the Rink
On Oct. 14, a 2-1 Rider team plodded out of the locker room and onto the ice, sporting uniforms with an unusual, yet meaningful splash of color.
Each player was garbed in a specially-made pink and black jersey for Rider hockey’s annual Pink in the Rink night, which raises awareness and funds for breast cancer awareness.
In honor of the important evening, Rider hockey donated $300 to the Mena Singer Foundation, a charity that ensures that children with cancer have the money and support to continue participating in athletics.
“Obviously, it’s a little bit special,” said graduate student forward TJ Evan. “With all the fans and passion coming out to support us, that’s all we can ever ask for.”
The night was further sweetened by a strong performance from the Broncs’ as Evan captained his team to a 5-0 throttling of the visiting Drexel Dragons.
Besides Pink in the Rink night, the game was of particular importance to Head Coach Sean Levin, as he took on his older brother, Justin Levin, the Dragons’ general manager.
“The emotion is very high as it relates to, like, knowledge of their coaching staff … and my brother being part of the organization,” said Sean Levin. “[It] definitely adds some bragging rights and feels good to get one.”
Fortunately for Sean Levin’s Broncs, they would be the victors of the fraternal feud, dominating through all three periods.
The game’s first score came just over three minutes after the puck met the ice when Evan tapped in his second score of the season to put the Broncs ahead 1-0.
The Broncs kept up the attack immediately after Evan’s goal, getting four more great looks at the cage, but a set of skillful saves by the opposing goaltender denied the second score, and Rider’s momentum was stymied after a brief scrum broke out infront of Drexel’s goal.
However, the Broncs eventually got their 2-0 lead before the first period concluded, as junior forward Dominick Cerceo sounded the horn with 52.1 seconds remaining after capitalizing on a deflected save.
Rider continued to separate itself in the second period, beginning with a highlight play from senior defenseman Eddie Coyne. About 3 ½ minutes into the period, Coyne struck paydirt on a power play, doing so with a long-distance drive from just inside the Dragons’ blue line.
Fifty-nine seconds later, sophomore forward Mark Marron put the Broncs up 4-0 after another attack sliced through the Drexel defense and into the nylon mesh.
For Rider’s fifth and final goal of the night, Cerceo stuck again, beaming a vicious one-timer into the back of the net before the Dragon’s goaltender could flinch.
“We’ve preached … the importance of playing structured hockey,” said Sean Levin. “We took away their ability to be creative and maximize their speed, resulting in them chipping the puck away.”
With a 5-0 advantage, Rider simply protected its lead for the remainder of the contest to secure the shutout. Sophomore goalie Trevor Giwerowski was completely impenetrable throughout the game, boasting a flawless 24 saves on 24 shots.
“I think, honestly, we didn’t play our best hockey,” said Sean Levin. “I think we’ll have a better game [tomorrow], because I don’t think we played well, whatsoever.”
House of the Dragons
Riding the momentum of a 5-0 defense of their home ice, the Broncs ventured to Philadelphia on Oct. 15 to complete a two-game grounding of the Dragons, ultimately taking them down 9-2.
“The focus leading into Saturday’s game was less X’s and O’s but more awareness of what to expect from Drexel after a back-to-back,” said Sean Levin. “We knew if we played slow and lazy in our own zone we would end up giving them scoring chances.”
Rider’s offensive onslaught and airtight defense gave the Dragons little room to breath, as Drexel was unable to score until the third period, three minutes after the Broncs subbed out Giverowski for freshman goalie Shaun Mika. Giwerowski posted a perfect shutout through five combined periods of play.
“We knew they would play with more urgency after losing Friday,” said Sean Levin. “Our game plan focused on our defensive zone play. Drexel does a great job getting on a team’s defense on the forecheck.”
As for the Broncs’ downpour of goals, senior forward DJ Sucher and junior defenseman Nick Pedulla led the way, each scoring a goal in the first and third periods to bookend the nine-goal effort. Up to that point, both Sucher and Pedulla were scoreless on the season.
“This weekend was a big test to see if we as a team are committed to putting in the work to be successful,” said Sean Levin. “It was a step forward but we are far from being a complete team.”
Having taken strides against Drexel, the 4-1 Broncs’ next challenge will be the Liberty Showcase in Lynchburg, Virginia, where they will play in three games from Oct. 21-23.