Sat. May 25th, 2024

The West Chester men’s hockey team took the second game of their home-home series with Rutgers in dramatic fashion Saturday, with a last minute goal to propel them to the 3-2 win.
Captain Matt Sklodowski started the rush with 58 seconds to go, charging up the left side ahead of two Rutgers players and sweeping around the net before centering a pass right through the crease.
That pass fell right onto the stick of Michael Dorfschneider, who slammed it home for his second goal of the season.
“I saw the puck go up the boards in the defensive zone and realized I had a chance to make a play,” Sklodowski said. “The defenseman was flat footed, so I chipped it around him and simply won the foot race. Great execution all around by everyone on that shift.”
However, despite the small amount of time left, the win did not come easy by any means.
Rutgers pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker, and with 25 seconds left in the game,Dorfscnheider took a minor penalty to give Rutgers a two-man advantage. On a faceoff ten seconds later, West Chester forward Jimmy McKee closed his hand on the puck in the defensive zone which sent him to the box as well, and made it a 6-3 powerplay.
Despite failing to clear the zone once while shorthanded, West Chester managed to kill time by tying up the puck along the boards and Rutgers could not get a shot on net while on the three man advantage.
Sklodowski led the Rams with a goal and an assist, with the goal coming in the second period off a beautiful pass across ice from Harrison Welch. It was Sklodowski’s first goal of the season, and it seemed to ignite his offensive potential.
“Matt is one of the leaders, he is the captain and he was one of the biggest goal scorers last year and that was his first goal tonight,” said head coach Wayne Sands. “He was starting to bleed the stick. I think mentally it was getting into his head so when he scored that goal it was like a ton of bricks off his shoulder. He then started to relax and started playing differently. He has all the skills there and he played relaxed after that so that was huge. There was a lot more to the goal other than the game itself. It opened a new person- or an old person-from what he did prior to that.”
“Scoring that goal took a bit off of my shoulders. I’ve been around the net with a lot of chances so far this season so being able to finally break the seal felt great,” Sklodowski said.”
The other Rams goal came back in the first period, with West Chester down 2-0. Just 18 second after Rutgers scored and with just 20 seconds left in the period, Ryan Evans found a loose puck with traffic in the crease and scored to cut the lead in half.
Evans goal was arguably the real turning point in the game. Before he scored West Chester looked sluggish and had trouble finding opportunities. They had just seven shots on goal to Rutgers’ 14. But in the second, the Rams came out of the gates strong, ripping shots and playing with previously absent energy and physicality. By the time the second ended, West Chester had tied the game, scoring once on 19 shots in the period.
“It seems like it has been taking us a period to get our legs so that is definitely something we need to work on,” said alternate captain Adam Ball. “Between the first and second we went back over our systems and knew that if we did that and stayed out of the box Rutgers couldn’t do anything against us five on five.”
Goaltender Michael Rice also stepped up his play after the first period. Rice, who was getting his first start in two weeks, looked shaky early on. He allowed the first Rutgers goal when he left the net and could not get back in time, and the second goal, which was less his fault, was a floater from 20 feet that deflected tipped off the top of his glove and trickled in. He let in two goals on 14 shots in the first, but after that he shut it down. Rutgers peppered Rice with 14 more shots in the second and 11 in the third for a game total of 39. He never faltered once.
“Rice looked great,” Ball said. “It’s a good feeling knowing you can have a freshman step up in such a big game. Especially after he took that rough bounce on the second goal- he didn’t let that get to him and he was one of the main reasons we won the game.”
With his 37 saves on 39 shots Saturday, Rice now has allowed just five goals on 65 shots all year, a .932 save percentage.
With the win, West Chester improves to 3-3 on the young season. Their next games are both away on Oct. 18 and 19 at Rhode Island, at 9 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
Kenny Ayres is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at

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