By Trey Wright
Riding the momentum from a hard-fought shootout victory against Penn State on Jan. 22, the Rider Club Ice Hockey team (16-3-1-1) looked to even the season series with Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey (MACH) rival Stevenson Mustangs (2-14).
The Mustangs bested the Broncs in comeback fashion in the shootout the last time the two teams met. Lightning struck twice for Stevenson, as they notched another comeback win over the Broncs in overtime 5-4 on Jan. 28.
“A lot of the issues of us were just trying to do too much,” said Head Coach Sean Levin.
The game was played at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton and got off to a quick start with a goal from junior winger DJ Sucher to put the Broncs on the scoresheet with 2:28 left in the opening period.
Stevenson responded later in the first, tying the game and poked in a loose puck past senior goaltender Eric Lineman.
Rider lit the lamp less than three minutes into the second frame when sophomore winger CJ Perkins fed a pass to fellow sophomore winger and Broncs leading goal scorer, Dominick Cerceo, which put the Broncs up one.
Perkins found the back of the net midway through the second off of a stretch pass from sophomore defender Nicholas Pedulla that extended the Broncs’ lead to 3-1.
Rider was crushing it in both offensive-zone time and shots similar to the first game against Stevenson. The Broncs led 27-11 in shots-on-goal at the beginning of the third period.
However, the major shortcoming for the Broncs was the inability to stay out of the penalty box.
Rider took five minor penalties in the game and it sucked much of the Broncs momentum away.
“We started to have a little bit of momentum, and we’d take it away with a penalty,” said Levin.
Rider’s power-play unit, which has been dominant, went 0-for-2 against the Mustangs.
Stevenson came within one early in the third period, but freshman Joey Cole responded 30 seconds later, shooting five-hole on the Mustangs’ netminder to make it a 4-2 lead.
A scary moment occurred in the middle of the third period when one of the Broncs’ captains and senior winger, Tyler Giwerowski, crashed into the boards while chasing the puck. He had to be assisted off the ice by his teammates and did not return to the game.
Two straight Stevenson goals, each originating from defensive-zone turnovers from the Broncs, tied the game with six minutes left in regulation. Sixty minutes was not enough to decide the game, sending it in to overtime.
“The idea of us trying to keep it simple was out the window,” said Levin. “Stevenson, tip the cap to them, did a great job of playing a simple game. Their whole mentality was to capitalize when Rider gives a giveaway.”
The Broncs had five shots in the extra period, but it took one for Stevenson, who won the game with 63 seconds remaining in overtime to secure the win.
“We got a little too complacent out there,” said senior team captain Chris Walako. “They’re a hardworking team, and when you take your foot off the gas, hard work is gonna beat your skill, any day of the week.”
“Tonight was about ‘me,’ not about ‘we,’ and that’s a reason why we’re taking a loss,” said Levin.
Rider, now with a record of 16-3-2-1, will match up against Delaware on Feb. 4 back home at Ice Land Skating Center