FALL RIVER, Mass. — The club ice hockey team is off to one of the hottest starts in the team’s recent history. They have played 10 games so far in their regular season under first-year Head Coach Michael O’Brien and won eight.
For their ninth game of the season, they faced off against the University of Connecticut on Friday night. Coming off eight consecutive wins, the Hawks looked to keep their streak alive in their home building in Fall River, Mass.
The Hawks faced the Huskies once before this season in their second game of the year and won it by a score of 4-3. In the rematch game, the Huskies took a 1-0 lead before RWU tied it just minutes later. In the second period of action, UConn scored twice to take a comfortable lead.
It appeared that every minor infraction that the Hawks committed was called for a two or four minute penalty, which gave their opponents plenty of opportunities to add to their score. After the Huskies got called for a penalty, less than 30 seconds later, the Hawks received a penalty of their own and then another shortly after, completely flipping the advantage.
“We’re taking way too many penalties and we’re going to spend the next couple of days trying to figure out how to reduce that number because that number is going to kill us in the end,” said O’Brien. “We dodged bullets throughout the last couple of games.”
The second period ended with a 3-1 score in the Huskies favor, but the game still had 20 more minutes to be played. Only a few minutes into the third frame, the Hawks cut the lead to one in what had become a high-tension game with scrums between almost every whistle.
The Hawks staged a comeback, scoring two goals to make it a 4-3 game. With only about half a period left to play in the game, the Hawks kept the pressure in the opposing zone and buried a rebound to tie the game at four.
Late in the game, with just under 30 seconds to play, O’Brien called a timeout to regroup his team as they needed to survive a defensive zone face-off. Coming out of the timeout, the Huskies took control of the face-off and buried the eventual game-winning goal with 11.4 seconds remaining. The loss ended the team’s winning streak at eight.
“We had a lot to talk about because we hadn’t lost in so long,” O’Brien said. “That loss re-focused us a little bit.”
The Hawks had less than a day to regroup before their game against the University of Vermont. In this game, the Hawks worked on staying disciplined in the middle of a tough game. Marc Frederick started in goal for the Hawks with a .935 save percentage. RWU got out to an early two-goal lead, but it was quickly cut to one by the Catamounts. With unrelenting pressure, RWU made sure this was the closest UVM came to tying the game and the Hawks eventually won by a score of 6-2.
The second period of both games this weekend followed a similar trend of the Hawks receiving some tough calls from the officials. But the team learned from the first game against UConn that they couldn’t let the calls corrupt their game against Vermont.
“Both games this weekend, the other teams imploded on their bench,” said O’Brien. “And Roger Williams stays cool.”