By Steven Eggert
The Broncs ice hockey team (28-6) is coming off a tough second place finish in the MACHA Tournament this past weekend, losing to Penn State in the championship, 4-1. Rider will attempt to turn the negatives into positives, however, as it looks toward the ACHA regionals this weekend.
On Saturday, the Broncs will face the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), who went 18-6-2 this season.
Rider’s Assistant Coach Teddy Gerry feels that if Rider keeps it a close game, the Broncs have a chance for victory.
“[UMBC] used to have a potent offense, but now their focus is on defense,” Gerry said. “I think we match up with them pretty well. They’re a great team, and there’s a reason they go to nationals every year. If we can keep the game close up until the end, I think we stand a pretty good chance of winning.”
Sophomore Tyler Deitrick believes applying pressure in the offensive zone and creating scoring opportunities will be the difference in the game.
“We need to be able to keep the puck in their zone as long as we can,” Deitrick said. “We will also work on getting off quick shots. We have a lot of players out with injuries and sickness, so we need to continue to get shots on net to create more chances. To get a win this weekend, we will need a full team effort like we’ve had the past couple games.”
If Rider sticks to the game plan, freshman goaltender Nate Kholodenko believes the team can win.
“We just need to keep doing what we do best,” Kholodenko said. “Play within our system and everything will take care of itself. [There’s] no doubt in my mind we can repeat what transpired this past weekend after beating Rowan and frustrating Penn State for two plus periods. Defense wins championships.”
Even though the Broncs lost in the MACHA Tournament, they are still walking away from the ice with positive thoughts that will help prepare them for the next task at hand.
“It’s great to get second place after the way we fought, but there’s always going to be that empty feeling of not winning the championship,” Kholodenko said. “We were proud of the way we performed and nothing can take that away from us. Now we know [how] it feels to lose in the championship, so we’re going to get it next time.”
Senior Connor Dragone agrees.
“The MACHA taught us that if we go in with confidence and play as a team, we can keep up with and beat anybody,” he said. “The formula to win for our team has always been hard work. Our team builds off of our hard work and determination. We really feel that no matter who we play that we are going to be the better team and it will just come down to execution.”