Mon. May 16th, 2022

Fresh off a 2-1 performance at the ACHA Showcase in Rochester, N.Y., the West Chester University hockey team traveled to the unfriendly confines of Brad Boss Arena at the University of Rhode Island this past weekend. This was billed as a clash of two ACHA Division I top 10 teams, but Rhode Island was intent on defending its home ice.No. 10 West Chester appeared to have the opening game won and a weekend split guaranteed as they led 3-2 with less than a minute left to go. However, No. 3 Rhode Island kept applying pressure in waves, eager to tie the game up and send it to overtime. Finally, with one measly second left, a URI player poked a puck home past WCU goaltender Corey Hackney and sent the wild pro-URI crowd into a frenzy. The goal appeared to deflate the WCU team and they and URI traded blows in overtime.

The extra five-minute session settled nothing, and it was onto West Chester’s third shootout of the year. Their first shootout had been in their first game of the season against Delaware and resulted in a loss on the shootout’s final shooter. A ECHA conference game against Villanova saw WCU almost get upset by a fiery Wildcats team, but Eric Keene’s goal on his second shot of the shootout clinched the win. However, this exciting shootout did not go in WCU’s favor as the twelfth shooter for URI sealed the deal when he snuck a shot past Hackney. Despite goals in regulation from captain Jim Gehring, defenseman Mike Longo and forward Pat Johnson, the Rams could not match URI’s performance in the shootout and were vanquished by the score of 4-3.

The two teams met again on Saturday night, and the game was not nearly as close as the night before. WCU appeared sluggish and slow and could not keep up with the rapid pace that URI established. The URI Rams were able to find very good angles to shoot at Hackney, who was no match for numerous one-timers and a plethora of rebounds. The Rams physically dominated the Golden Rams en route to a 7-2 victory, and capped a disappointing end to what seemed like a promising weekend to impress national voters for the Golden Rams.

Johnson did continue his smashing assault on the score sheet as he tallied both goals for WCU. Johnson has arguably been the Rams’ most consistent player this season and has consistently delivered big goals.

The Golden Rams must regroup since they have two league games this weekend, and as they learned against Villanova, there are no automatic wins in this conference. The team travels to College Park, Md. for a game against the University of Maryland Terrapins and follows that up with a rare Sunday game in Bethlehem against Lehigh University. The Golden Rams blanked Lehigh, 5-0, earlier this season in their opening ECHA game. The Golden Rams need to start bringing a more consistent effort, as they have lost three of their past five games; all three losses were to ranked teams.

It is nice to beat the weaklings that are ranked lower, but in order to make a lasting impression and to prove last season was no fluke, the Rams must show more drive and determination and beat some of the bigger fishes in the sea.

Matt Chandik is a third-year student. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu

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