By David Pavlak
Even when having a great season, there is always bound to be a bump in the road. This past weekend, the Rider Broncs (12-4) hit two of those bumps when they faced off against New York University (4-9) and Temple (12-3), losing 9-6 and 2-1, respectively.
NYU, a team the Broncs defeated earlier this season 7-2, was a much stronger team this time around, and the Broncs had a tough time keeping up. The Violets of NYU came out with a vengeance last Friday night, scoring four unanswered goals before sophomore Steve Geffre scored on a power play to cut the lead to 4-1 entering the second period.
The second period was not any kinder to the Broncs than the first, as NYU continued to get the puck in the net, scoring three in a row before sophomore Frank Garvey broke their streak with a goal of his own. The Violets, however, took matters into their own hands, ending the period with two more goals and a dominating 9-2 lead.
The Broncs would not lie down, though. Sophomore Mike Junod scored a pair and senior captain D.J. Nork and Garvey scored one each, but that was as close as the Broncs would get. “I think it is a possibility that we may have came out cocky; we were on a real hot streak for a couple of weeks and that can happen to a team playing that well,” said junior forward Connor Dragone. “NYU definitely improved and when it came down to it, it seemed like they wanted the win more than us that night and that is difficult to overcome.”
But Dragone said he was proud of his team’s never-say-quit attitude.
“I think the third period showed a lot about our team by coming back to make the game 9-6 when it was 9-2 going into the period,” he said. “Making it respectable was important to us and we were happy with our third period play.”
The weekend did not get any easier for the Broncs as they attempted to put the recent loss behind them, preparing to face a red-hot team in Temple.
The game was a hard-fought, nose-to-nose battle in which the Broncs fell just short. The Owls scored two power play goals split up between the first and second period. Junod got Rider back within one when he scored halfway through the third period, but the lucky bounces were just not on Rider’s side, as the team dropped the decision 2-1.
“Temple is a very talented team but we showed that we can play with the best teams by keeping it close,” said Dragone. “We had tons of opportunities in the last minute to tie it up and almost any other day some of our shots would have gone in the net, but Temple played well defensively and that shows how good of a team they are.”
Though the weekend’s losses were tough for the Broncs to swallow, they are taking the positives out of it.
“We have such a strong team this year and we know we can beat some of the best, so we are getting excited to continue to play higher level teams who will test our skill level,” said Dragone. “At some point, though, we need to win those close games, and I think we are so close to moving up to being a really great team and it will only take one big win to show that.”
The Broncs host St. Joseph’s (5-6-1) tonight at 9 before traveling to Princeton (6-7) Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. contest.