On Oct. 1, the WCU Men’s sport club hockey team opened up the 2010 season with a huge win at home over Niagara, starting off the season on the right foot. It is no surprise that an airtight defense is what ultimately gave the Rams the win over a strong Niagara team. Looking at the stats only, WCU was blown away as Niagara outshot them 52-35 in the game. However, a flawless defense forced the Niagara offense into taking wild, ineffective shots from the perimeter; shots that hardly did any damage. They also killed a key penalty in the third period that proved crucial in stopping Niagara from getting themselves back into the game via the power play.
Matt Murnane was lights out in goal as he steered away 50 of the 52 shots to help guide the Rams to a 4-2 victory, their first of the season.
The offense was no slouch either. The Rams enjoyed goals from Dan Griffiths, Jon Reitz, Tim Margadonna and Steve Meade, thanks to assists from Bob McInerny, Mike Ahle, Adam Ball, Tim Higgins (2), and Jeff Dugan.
Coach Dorsey was extremely pleased with this showing.
“I am really proud of how the boys competed. They really worked hard. Niagara is an excellent team who is very pesky; they never quit. This win was huge for our team,” Coach Dorsey said.
To win the opener was big, but to go 2-0 on the first weekend of contests would be phenomenal. That is exactly what the Rams did. A day after shutting down Niagara to win their first game of the season, WCU came away with win number two against Penn State Berks.
However, this game was not played as crisply as the previous night.
“We came out not skating hard and Berks capitalized on our mistakes. They scored on a few of our penalties, and on some of our defensive zone let downs,” Murnane said.
That was the big difference between games one and two. Whereas the offense was there and working (the Rams scored two short handed goals in the first period to go along with 10 other goals in the game), the defense seemed a bit slow and idle. The game turned into a high scoring affair as the third period started with the Rams up by a score of 7-5.
Perhaps a pep talk between periods amped the team up a bit as the intensity really picked up in the third period. The Rams dominated Berks outscoring them 5 to 1 in the third period on their way to a second win in as many games.
Regardless of how sloppy the game was, there were bright spots. Twelve goals in one hockey game speaks for itself, as does defenseman Steve Meade’s 100th point of his college career, an impressive feat. The Rams went into their week two showcase in Ohio confident and pleased with the position they had put themselves in early on. Then things seemed to take a turn for the worse.
WCU journeyed to Ohio last weekend for a showcase hoping to pick up where they left off, but their opponents had other ideas. On Friday against an Indiana team new to the Division I league, the Ram’s were simply outplayed.
The hard working Indiana team handed the Rams their first loss of the season, an 8-3 thrashing. Although the loss was tough to swallow, an upset, yet positive Coach Dorsey said: “We were not happy with this in the least bit. We addressed the problem and told the boys to just let this one go.”
Getting some rest and starting fresh the next day seemed like it would do some good. It was only one game and there was a lot of weekend left to recover.
The next day the Rams came out and played a crisper, sounder game against Western Michigan. However, their defense and goaltending continued to struggle. Despite putting six goals on the board including a hat trick by captain Steve Jones, the Rams dropped their second game of the weekend by a final score of 7-6.
Visibly frustrated, Coach Dorsey discussed his unhappiness with the net minding.
“I was pretty disappointed with the goal tending in this game, as I thought we played well otherwise. Anytime you score six goals, and lose, it is just unacceptable,” Dorsey said. Although they did not play up to their potential, the Rams had a chance to at least salvage one game from their showcase.
Sunday’s game against Arizona did not fare any better for the team. The Rams got off to a very slow start and seemed to be on the wrong end of the official’s calls all game long.
Despite their drive to save one game from their weekend, the Ram’s lost 7-3 and had to walk away with three losses in three days pushing their out-of-conference record to 2-3 for the season. Coach Dorsey stressed that his team had to defend the net much better than they did.
“Goaltending was an issue all weekend. All three goaltenders played on the weekend, and none of them got the job done,” Dorsey said.
Despite the disastrous weekend that took shape the players and coaches are remaining calm, as there is a very long season ahead. The attitude amongst the players remained positive as an enthusiastic.
“I look forward to seeing how the team reactsand plays this weekend against our league rival Delaware,” Murnane said.
Coach Dorsey is not at all concerned either. When asked about how he plans to go about fixing this weekend’s mistakes he said: “The goals are still the same. The season is young, and we’re a very young team. There’s going to be some adversity like this, but it’s important to stay the course, and keep the goals in mind. This is just a speed bump, and we’ll be fine, the boys just need to keep working hard.”
Kenny Ayres is a first-year student. majoring in communications. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.