Club hockey bounced in first round of regionals
By Trey Wright
After falling just short in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association Finals (MACH) against Liberty University, the Broncs club ice hockey team looked to establish a deep run in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Southeast Regional Tournament, opening the bracket against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Rider got the wrong end of a fierce comeback by the Buckeyes, falling in overtime 5-4.
The Broncs gained back freshman goaltender Trevor Giwerowski from an injury he sustained on Jan. 22, a massive piece in Rider’s roster.
“Selecting the goalie for Friday’s regionals game was a difficult decision; Between Adam [Godfrey]’s strong play in our league playoffs, Eric [Lineman]‘s consistent compete focus, and Trevor’s overall season performance, our decision was difficult,” said Rider Head Coach Sean Levin. “Trevor got the nod with his complete body of work and tremendous season.”
The first period saw a few good chances for Rider on Ohio State’s goaltender, including a shot from sophomore center Justin Rauch that deflected off the goaltender’s paddle, but the score remained tied at zero entering the first intermission.
However early in the second period, Rauch and senior defenseman Tyler Giwerowski were able to connect on a penalty kill to break open the scoring five minutes into the frame.
Fifty-eight seconds later, on the same penalty kill, sophomore winger Christian Wawrzinski made a beautiful cross-ice pass to senior winger TJ Evan, to extend the lead.
Ohio State cut the lead in half midway through the period, and the score remained 2-1 after two periods.
The main struggle in the game was the power play, which was thwarted on all seven chances by the Buckeyes’ aggressive penalty kill.
“Not capitalizing on our numerous power-play chances played a major impact in front of Friday’s game,” said Levin. “We’ve preached all year that our special teams need to win us games. Unfortunately, we were not able to capitalize.”
Tyler Giwerowski brought the lead back to 3-1 early in the third period. Two minutes later, Evan, Tyler Giwerowski and junior winger DJ Sucher, combined on a tic-tac-toe goal to give the Broncs a three-goal lead.
However, Ohio State scored two quick goals to make it 4-3 and tied it with just over a minute remaining on a power play.
“I think after going up 4-1, the team began thinking of the next game,” said Levin. “Collectively we struggled to get consistency for the first two periods but found a way to score.
“Getting a three-goal lead was critical, but it drastically changed our overall focus,” said Levin.
Rider had a few really good chances in overtime, but it was the Buckeyes getting one past Giwerowski to win the game and advance in the Regional Tournament.
“I think there was a little rust and Trevor‘s game, which is expected after being out for over a month,” said Levin. “However, that played no factor in the outcome of the game. Our failure lied with our inability to capitalize on our chances, how we managed momentum, and failure to stick to the game plan as the game shifted towards OSU.”
However, the season was not a wash by any means.
Several impressive statistics for the team include finishing the season with a cumulative record of 21-5-4, sweeping bitter rival Rowan in all three games played against the Profs, every skater that played multiple games scored at least once, and most impressive of all, remaining undefeated at home in regulation, losing only twice on home ice in overtime to William Patterson on Jan. 15, and Stevenson on Jan. 28.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” said Levin. “We came up short in winning the MACH, and didn’t reach Nationals, but the season in my eyes is still a success.”
With conference juggernaut Liberty leaving the MACH next season, the Rider club ice hockey program looks to bounce back in the fall.