By Steven Eggert
So far, a month has passed in the New Year and the Rider ice hockey team (25-6) is off to an exciting back half of the season.
The Broncs dropped a few spots in the ACHA Division II rankings and now currently sit in the 10th spot.
Rider will take on Scranton (5-9-1) before traveling to George Washington (5-10) on Saturday.
The Broncs set the school record for wins in a regular season after notching their 23rd victory of the year against Kutztown (14-8-1), 9-2, a game which saw junior captain Frank Garvey score five goals.
A week later, Garvey would record his 115th career goal in Saturday’s 10-7 victory against Monmouth (4-11), breaking the Rider all-time goal mark.
“Setting the record was an awesome feeling,” Garvey said. “It is definitely one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of my long hockey career. I just feel honored to be able to do something like this with such a great group of guys. Obviously I am very happy for the record but my main focus is ending the season on a winning streak and making a strong run in the playoffs and regionals.”
The Broncs have started 2012 well, winning three of their first four games. Freshman forward Pat Grilli feels that the reason for the strong start is the team’s practices.
“We had two practices right at the end of winter break,” Grilli said. “We worked on a lot of passing, shooting and skating drills to sharpen up on the simple things to prepare for the first weekend back since a lot of guys haven’t skated in a few weeks.”
Senior defenseman Alex Schon believes that the team’s chemistry has been another huge reason for the Broncs’ strong season.
“We have a real good chemistry this year,” Schon said. “It’s easier to go out and play when you know the guys to the left and right have your back.”
Grilli scored two goals in last Friday’s game against Seton Hall (10-5) and followed it up with a hat trick against Monmouth (4-11) the next night. Grilli’s production has increased after moving up on a line with Garvey and sophomore Tyler Deitrick.
“It’s been great playing with Garvey and Deitrick,” Grilli said. “They’re two of our best players, and playing with them complements my game. They are a big part of the success I have had lately.”
Schon understands that the defense will need to improve by working hard so that they can put the offense in better positions to win.
“The game [last] Saturday was definitely not the best game we have played all year,” Schon said. “After the game, we all were ready to get back to practice and work on the things that make us successful. We got away from that Saturday night.”
Even with a few hiccups, Schon feels this team is a huge threat for the rest of the season.
“What we need to start doing that we haven’t done since coming back from break is making teams play our way,” he said. “We have gotten away from that. I think that is a sign of rust but once we get rolling, I would watch out. We are a scary team to play against when we bring our game.”