By Brandon Scalea
The Rider club hockey team participated in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association (MACHA) playoffs in Abingdon, Maryland, advancing to the semifinals before being eliminated by in-state rival Rowan.
In the first round on Feb. 13, the Broncs faced a familiar foe in Penn State. Senior goalie Nate Kholodenko, 2014-15 MACHA Goalie of the Year, stood tall down the stretch, and the Broncs upset the Nittany Lions 4-3.
Rider wasted no time in joining the scoring sheet, with Matt Fox netting a goal just two minutes in. Seconds later, senior forward Chris Daley made it 2-0 on the second shot of the game.
With 15:44 left in the first, the Lions gained some life and cut the lead in half. They looked to capitalize again as the Broncs faced a penalty, but freshman forward Chris Johnson managed to score for a 3-1 Rider lead.
Head Coach Sean Levin felt that this was the turning point of the game.
“Chris made a phenomenal play,” he said. “Penn State likes to take control when they score a goal. We didn’t want to let that happen.”
Penn State scored another goal to cut the lead to 3-2, and the score remained after the first 20 minutes completed.
After a scoreless second period, the final 20 minutes of the game started off with Penn State tying the score at 3. At the midway point of the third, Rider picked up a five-on-three advantage, and scored just 7 seconds in.
Kholodenko then made continuous saves, allowing Rider to secure the 4-3 win.
The following night, Rowan ended the Broncs’ run. Like the night before, one team struck early and often, but it was not Rider. By the midway point of the first, Rowan led 4-0. Rider gained some life soon, but after the first period, there was a 5-2 Rowan lead.
The Profs would add 2 more on Rider, who self-destructed in the final two periods. After some ejections and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, Rowan dominated with a 7-2 win.
While the Broncs’ MACHA run is done, they have qualified as the No. 9 seed for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Southeast regional playoffs.