By Steve Eggert
The Rider ice hockey team (16-3) is coming off a threegame weekend where it swept the competition.
The Broncs defeated Millersville (8-3-1) 7-2, St. Joseph’s (3-9) 4-1 and Alvernia (7-2) 4-3.
The Broncs’ strong start to the season has given them an eighth place spot in the Southeast Regional rankings, according to achahockey.org.
Freshman goaltender Nate Kholodenko was pleased with the team’s performance through the tough weekend.
“We knew it was going to be a long and tiring weekend,” Kholodenko said. “In order to stay focused throughout the weekend, we had to work in practice to ensure our best performance.”
Head Coach Ted Gerry was also happy with what he saw on the ice.
“The overall work ethic of the team this year has been great,” Gerry said. “We pride ourselves in outworking our opponents. We try our hardest to do the little things right, like blocking shots, defensive zone coverage, following up rebounds in the offensive zone and staying calm under pressure.”
Tonight, the Broncs will take on Temple (1-11) before heading to Delaware to battle the Blue Hens (3-6). Previously, the Broncs have not faced Delaware as the Blue Hens are new to the MACHA this season, but Rider is familiar with Temple, who defeated the Broncs earlier this year, 4-2.
Kholodenko is hoping to extract some payback from the Owls.
“There is definitely a hunger for revenge,” Kholodenko said. “They barely squeaked by us in the first game of the season, but since that first game, [we’ve grown] so much as a team and definitely developed a lot of chemistry.”
Senior Connor Dragone is prepared to square off on the ice.
“I think the guys are really going to be hungry against Temple because they just caught us on a bad night,” he said. “With the talent we have this year, I feel as though we are expected to win and it will be a great game for us to show everyone what we have, and that we are a legitimate team.”
The Broncs have outscored their opponents 99-47 this season. The offense is something that Rider prides itself on.
Junior captain Frank Garvey currently leads the Broncs in goals (21) and total points (38). He is ranked eighth in the MACHA in total points and sixth in goals.
“Coming into the season, we knew our offense would be the backbone of the team,” Gerry said. “We rely heavily on our offense to score. One thing our offense does not get enough credit for is their defensive play. Our forwards all back check and are strong in the defensive zone.”
Dragone is not surprised with the number of offensive weapons that the team possesses.
“The offense has been very good due to the talent and hard work we have,” he said. “We brought in freshmen Pat Grilli and Chris Daley, who have contributed right away. Guys like sophomore Mike Rossi and senior Andrew Michael also add secondary scoring.”
A high-scoring Rider offense makes the goalie’s job in net much easier, no matter who the Broncs have between the pipes that night.
“As a goalie, anytime your team can put up big numbers offensively, it relaxes you and makes you stay confident,” said Kholodenko. “In the event that we do let up a goal, we’re still relaxed and calm that our team can get it back for us.”