By Steve Sica
After two big wins this past weekend, the ice hockey team (8-4-1) looks to continue its winning ways against in-state rivals Monmouth and Rowan (11-1) this weekend.
The Broncs had a successful weekend, beating Bryn Athyn (1-5) and St. Joseph’s (3-10-1). Head Coach Sean Levin feels passionate about how this past span of games went for his team.
“It was great to get scoring from different players, both on offense and defense,” Levin said. “If we expect to beat the good teams, then we need production from everyone.”
The Broncs will play two games on the road this weekend, tonight at 8:30 p.m. against Monmouth and Saturday at Rowan beginning at 8:15 p.m. Levin expects Rider to be able to compete with these two tough teams.
“We’re expecting Monmouth to play a similar game like St. Joseph’s last weekend,” Levin said. “They will be a hardworking, physical team that looks to capitalize off of turnovers and/or mistakes.”
Levin has some concerns going into the Monmouth game, but he feels that after seeing what his team has accomplished so far this year, it should be able to overcome whatever the Hawks throw at it.
“I’m confident that by playing ‘Rider hockey’ and staying out of the penalty box, we’ll be in a position to win,” he said.
Saturday’s game against Rowan is one of the biggest challenges the Broncs have this season. The Owls are ranked second in the MACHA.
Sophomore forward Chris Daley acknowledges that his team will need to make some changes to beat them.
“We will mostly adjust the game plan against Rowan,” Daley said. “They are a very fast team, and hopefully we can adjust our game correctly to play them.”
While being on the road gives the Broncs a challenge, Rowan’s success at home provides an even bigger challenge.
“Rowan is a strong team that has been playing great hockey thus far,” Levin said. “We’re expecting a talented team that has the ability to score at will. We understand the challenge ahead of us and embrace the opportunity.”
The Broncs have had to overcome a lot lately, including a slew of injuries in the past few weeks. Levin and his players understand that they all need to step up their game a little bit more now.
“Obviously with the hurt players, we have big shoes to fill,” Daley said. “But we should not have a problem with guys filling in and doing their jobs.”
Assistant Coach Joe Roche recognizes that playing with injuries and losing a core group of players is hard for his team to get through, but he knows they are not going to quit on this season.
“There’s no denying that we’ve faced a fair amount of adversity this season when it comes to injuries,” Roche said. “It’s unfortunate, but hockey is a competitive, physically demanding sport and injuries are a part of the game. I believe that the real measure of a team is how it responds to adversity.”