By David Pavlak
Rider took to the ice this past weekend in hopes of a MACHA Championship. To achieve this goal, the team would have to defeat Penn State (PSU), Temple, and the University Of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). With the momentum of closing the season on a winning streak still fresh, the Broncs defeated PSU 2-1, and upset Temple in double overtime 4-3 before falling to UMBC in the championship the following afternoon 5-0.
Going into the game, the Broncs knew they had to play hard in order to minimize PSU’s chances.
“We had to conserve our energy and keep them out of the middle of our own zone, and let them do the running around,” said senior captain Tom D’Aurizio.
The Ice Lions scored quickly on a power play goal, silencing the roaring Rider crowd. The Broncs did not falter, however, as freshman Frank Garvey buried the puck to even the score.
Rider did not give PSU a chance to jump back into the lead at the beginning of the second period. Sophomore Connor Dragone scored a power play goal to put the Broncs ahead.
Junior goalie Joe Nalbone played a tremendous game, which included stopping a breakaway near the end of the second period to preserve the lead. Nalbone finished with 49 saves on the night, leading the Broncs into victory.
Easily the most exciting game of the weekend followed the win against PSU as Rider took on Temple. The Owls were favored entering the game. However, the Broncs came ready for a battle, and that was exactly what it was.
Rider came out early with a goal from senior George Helock. Following the goal, Garvey scored on a breakaway, giving him goals in back-to-back games. Temple would not remain quiet, however, as it came out of the break and scored a power play goal to cut the deficit to one.
In times of despair, a player needs to step up and reassert the dominance. That player was Garvey, who rippled the twine again to make it 3-1. Going into the third period, the Owls couldn’t find the back of the net. Nalbone turned away shot after shot keeping his team in the game. All it takes is one event to spark a fire though, and Temple got that spark. With three minutes left in regulation, Temple scored two quick goals to tie the game, forcing overtime.
“Nick [Savaiano] and I just told the guys to keep our heads up,” D’Aurizio said. “And the things that happened were out of our control.”
The game would go into two overtime periods before senior captain Nick Savaiano scored the game-winner on a power play.
“I’ve been playing hockey for 16 years and that was the greatest moment I ever had playing the game,” said Savaiano.
With emotions running high, the Broncs returned the following afternoon to play for the MACHA Championship. This would not be an easy task by any means, however, as their opponent, UMBC, was working on an undefeated season. They also captured the MACHA Championship the previous year. The Broncs held the Retrievers scoreless in the first period until fatigue set in. From the second period on, UMBC skated hard and won the race to nearly every puck. Eventually, the Retrievers put in five goals, ending the game.
“This year has been incredible, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end my career,” said Savaiano.
D’Aurizio was more than pleased with the way his career finished.
“My first year here, we didn’t even make the playoffs, and now my last year here, we almost won a championship,” D’Aurizio said. “Reaching the finals was not only great for our team, but it was great for our organization and school.”