By Rebecca Taylor Bludgus
Rider club ice hockey’s domination in the American Collegiate Hockey Association continued after picking up two more wins on Oct. 20 with a 11-1 victory over Stevenson and 2-1 win over Penn State on Oct. 22.
Before puck drop on Oct. 20, a moment of silence was held to honor Stevenson’s senior forward Eric Bennett, 21, who died in a car accident this past summer.
Bennett’s jersey hung above the Stevenson bench to honor him and his time as a Mustang.
The Broncs-Mustangs derby was a rematch from the previous weekend when the Broncs beat them 5-4.
Rider wasted no time getting on the board with an unassisted goal through the keeper’s legs from sophomore forward Aaron Pape just over two minutes in.
Two other goals were made in the first five minutes, with a shot from behind the goal line by senior guard Justin Rauch, assisted by freshman forward Brendan MacAinsh and graduate student defenseman Eddie Coyne. Then, senior forward Dom Cerceo got one in by collecting the rebound from his shot off of the goal post, making it 3-0.
Picking up their second goals of the game, Cerceo would get another one in with 7:12 left to play with an assist from sophomore defenseman Tim Wanvig for his first point of the year and within the last minute, Pape popped one in unassisted and the score was 5-0 at the end of the first period.
To open up the second period, Pape earned his first hat trick of the season with the puck cruising past the goalie’s shoulder with Coyne and senior forward Mark McDermitt on with the assists, 6-0.
According to Pape, keeping the game simple was what allowed him to have those scoring opportunities.
Keeping the match basic and passing the puck around has been the focus for the team since the beginning of the season.
The Broncs went on a two-minute power play, but the Mustangs came back to 5-on-5 quickly with a great attempt that was beautifully saved by junior goalkeeper Trevor Giwerowski.
Rider extended their lead with the second hat trick of the night, Cerceo shot the puck through the 5-hole with an assist from freshman defenseman Jake Bennert, 7-0.
“We talked about getting on them early in the first period. They had to drive a couple hours, so we know they’re always a little bit more tired [they] got bus legs, so we just wanted to jump on them early in the first and it ended up working,” Cerceo said about the team’s scoring opportunities.
Steve Gresch earned his first collegiate goal to make the game 8-0, with freshman forward Ryan Kenna and senior forward Anthony Zito on the assists.
With 1:07 left in the second, Stevenson was finally able to respond with a goal that went to the right of Gierowski for the Mustang’s first score.
To start the second, freshman defenseman Joseph Cusumano earned his first collegiate goal with the assists from junior forward Cole Schneider.
In the third, Rider popped in two goals, one from graduate student forward T.J. Evan unassisted and one from McDermitt for a final score of 11-1.
The Stevenson wipeout had 17 Broncs record a point with Cerceo and Pape as the goal and point leaders.
“We let each other know where we are on the ice and we just give it to them and we gotta be able to finish,” Pape said.
On Oct. 22, Rider took a trip up to Pennsylvania to face off against the Nittany Lions.
Both teams were scoreless in the first and scored all of their goals in the second period.
Gersch started it off with Bennert and Evan on the assist and senior defenseman Nick Pedulla with the help of Schneider and MacAinsh.
Rider’s win streak advanced to 10 and are 1st in their division, 3-0 in conference games.
“We call it the machine, but we’re keeping it simple and doing what we’re supposed to do and that’s how we get the wins,” said Pape about the win streak. “I know some of them might look like blowouts, but we’re keeping it simple and keeping the puck in the zone and working hard.”
In the past four games, Rider has picked up a total of 29 goals, averaging about seven goals per game. Their defense has gotten even stronger over the past two weeks, with their opponents shooting percentages down.
“We focused on it in film and anytime we talk about it, it’s not individual play, but it’s as a team and we’ll never win by 10 playing as individuals,” said Cerceo. “Buying in and doing the same thing and and even if you’re not scoring the goals, they’re still down on the bench and encouraging everyone.”
The next two games are at home at Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton, New Jersey, at 7:30 p.m. with Alumni Night on Oct. 27 against Drexel and Pink in the Rink night on Oct. 28 against division rival Rowan.
By Dain Smith and