By Brandon Scalea
The club ice hockey team traveled to Glassboro, N.J., on Nov. 1 for its first matchup against archrival Rowan this season. Despite scoring the game’s first goal, Rider lost after allowing four unanswered goals.
The first period began like most for the Broncs (7-4), with the two teams trading penalty minutes. After two penalty kills for Rowan, the Broncs were able to score at even strength. At the 9:22 mark of the first period, freshman forward John Martino found senior forward Larry Walker for the 1-0 edge.
The Profs responded quickly with continued pressure on senior goaltender Nate Kholodenko. However, Rider battled to hold the lead for the first 20 minutes. With 53 seconds to go in the opening frame, Rowan rang one off the crossbar and scored on the rebound to tie the score at one apiece before heading to the locker room.
In the second period, Rider looked to bring momentum back in their favor. Early in the period, however, Kholodenko let up an uncharacteristic five-hole goal to give the Profs the lead, and the momentum would never swing back.
Just moments later, the home team netted another one for the 3-1 lead. Shortly after, Rowan took a penalty and Rider looked to regroup with a solid power play midway through the period. Rowan killed it off and kept the Broncs off the board. With five minutes left in the period, Rider looked to score on another power play. Senior forwards Chris Daley and Pat Grilli had some quality chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
The period ended with shots on goal and a 3-1 lead for Rowan.
Grilli gave credit where it was due — to Rowan’s goalkeeper.
“Their goalie made a lot of big saves,” said Grilli, “It seemed to feed their momentum and we just couldn’t get anything by him. We had some great scoring chances.
The Broncs’ struggles continued early in the third, as a turnover in the neutral zone set up the fourth goal for the Profs. The shot deflected off the skate of junior defenseman Gary Fisher and got by Kholodenko.
Junior forward Andrew Heinz had an opportunity to get the Broncs back in it, as he broke hard towards the net and his shot just missed off the crossbar. He then took a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as each team sent one to the box.
Rowan continued to leave the door open for Rider with several third period penalties, but the Broncs could not take advantage. The frustration boiled over as freshman defenseman JJ Santagata was given a game misconduct penalty and was ejected.
Santagata explained that the team was angry and couldn’t get anything going in the right direction.
“Many of the upperclassmen described the intensity of the game against Rowan as being like game seven of the Stanley Cup,” Santagata said. “It was hard not to get heated when things weren’t going our way.”
A brawl broke out in the Rowan zone as a member of the home team proceeded to tackle junior defenseman Connor Fox. Walker joined the mess to defend his teammate, and was escorted to the box as well.
The Broncs pulled Kholodenko late, but Rowan would hang on for the 4-1 win. These two teams will meet again on Dec. 12 at Louck’s Ice Arena. In the meantime, Rider will look to get back on track, as they host Temple on Nov. 7.