By Rob Rose
The ice hockey team defeated Rowan, 3-1, behind a two-goal performance from junior defenseman Nicholas Leelum.
Rowan opened the scoring in the game, netting the only goal of the first period in the game’s 12th minute.
In net for Rider was junior goalie Carter Siani. Siani saved 42 of 43 shots by the Profs, earning high praise from Head Coach Sean Levin after the game.
“Carter was the main reason we came away with the win Saturday against Rowan,” said Levin. “In an emotional game, Carter was the calming factor that played a major role in our success.”
Early in the second period, Leelum netted his first goal of the game on the power play, assisted by junior forward Jake Lukis and senior defenseman JJ Santagata.
Leelum transitioned from defenseman to forward this season and has been one of the team’s top scorers. Injury and illness have kept freshman defenseman Mike Kauffman, and junior defenseman Mark Fisher, out of the lineup, forcing Leelum back to the blue line.
“He’s done a great job transitioning back to defense,” said Levin. “Nick still brings an offensive presence with the ability to join the rush. This creates a difficult match up for opponents since they need to account for him when he’s on the ice,” said Levin.
Junior forward Cole Moskal gave Rider its first lead of the game on an unassisted goal.
At the end of two periods the Broncs led, 2-1.
Siani shut down the Rowan attack in third period, despite six power play opportunities for the Profs.
Taking penalties is something that has been an issue for Rider this season, only amplified by the injuries to a pair of defensemen.
The game was physical throughout with 21 penalties total. Two Rowan skaters received 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and one of the Profs, Frank Christy, was disqualified from the game for a 10-minute facemask penalty.
Leelum added his second goal of the game in the third period, unassisted to give the Broncs a 3-1 lead.
“With two defensemen hurting, [Leelum] stepped up big time,” said Santagata. “His offensive ability has helped bring some energy to our blue line.”
Rider was outshot by Rowan 43-26 but took advantage of its opportunities, capitalizing on power play chances. The penalty kill for the Broncs was strong as well, in a complete performance from their special teams.
The Broncs’ record is 10-8, with nine games remaining in the regular season.
Rider will take the ice for back-to-back home games, Dec. 8 at 8:45 p.m. against Rowan and a Dec. 9 matchup with Virginia Tech at 5:45 p.m.