By Steven Eggert
The Rider hockey team (4-2) is heading into this weekend with a home game at the Loucks Ice Center against its longtime rival, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) (3-1), tonight before taking on Princeton (1-1) at home again on Monday.
Rider is coming off two straight wins in which it has outscored its opponents by a total of 13-4.
As the Broncs prepare to face off against TCNJ, junior Brian Schauer is ready to go up against their rival.
“Like any rivalry, both teams are going to come into this game hungry for a win,” Schauer said. “This game is more than just a game, however, it’s a game over territory. We both share the ice rink. We definitely want to show them whose rink this really is, but we can’t feed into the hype of this game. We know their record and they have definitely improved since last season; we just need to make sure we come prepared like every game and expect a battle.”
Senior Connor Dragone agreed with his teammate’s words.
“We go into every game this season expecting to be the better team and we expect to be able to dictate the play of the game,” he said. “TCNJ will be a solid opponent but I have no doubts that we can handle them. The game will be a little more intense at the beginning due to the rivalry but nothing that our team can’t handle.”
The Broncs are looking to change the outlook of the team after a couple early season defeats.
“I’m very pleased with our home record and I’d like to see the continued success,” said senior Chris Dudo. “I think the home fans and the familiar environment have taken away any anxiety before the game. Off the ice, the team has bonded well and it shows during games and practices. I think that we need to keep working hard and keep trying to outplay our opponents. Just like any other team, we shouldn’t be complacent with our last performance. Every time we step on the ice, we need to play better than the last shift.”
The Broncs will need a quick turnaround after the TCNJ game, as they take on the Tigers of Princeton.
“Princeton is just another game for us, you never know what they are going to be like,” Schauer said. “Regardless of the talent level, we need to stay focused, do the little things right and work on things that will benefit us in the future. Basically we need to stick to the game plan.”
Dudo is excited to be facing the Tigers.
“It is a bit of a rivalry game for us just because we are so close to them and we like the prestige of playing them,” Dudo said. “It is a little like playing TCNJ just because we want to be the best of all the local teams, so we will prepare just like any normal game.”
No matter what, the Broncs will be focused on picking up two victories this coming week.
“The difference between winning and losing will be who works harder as well as who handles their emotions better,” Dragone said. “The crowd will be a huge factor but we cannot let it dictate our play. We need to stay calm and focused and play our game, which is to work harder than any team we face every time we touch the ice.”
The production has been fluid through the first few games of the season. Junior Frank Garvey already has six goals, while sophomore Tyler Deitrick has three goals and seven assists, for a total of 10 points. Dudo has gone 2-1 through four games while posting a 2.57 GAA.