On Friday, March 6th, the Maryland Mens DIII Club Ice Hockey Team will host the third annual USA Warriors Hockey Classic at Wells Ice Rink in College Park, Maryland. This year's event begins at 6:45 PM and it will feature the return of last year's game between the USA Warriors and the UMD Terps hockey teams as well as a postgame skills competition.
The University of Maryland Terrapins will face the Liberty University Flames this afternoon in a playoff game.
While the Terps did not qualify for regionals, a win tonight will earn them another game tomorrow and a chance to finally vanquish these perpetual foes.
U-Md. has met with Liberty twice this season, both games ending in a three goal defeat at the hands of the Flame's fast-paced offense. In the last three seasons, including 2014-15, the Flames have won every game versus Maryland and won by a multi-goal lead.
"Liberty is going to be really tough," Jake Friedland, a senior forward, said. "They're a very fast and skilled team."
The Terrapins aren't going down without a fight, however.
"In practice we've concentrated on making quick plays with the puck because we know they will be very aggressive," Friedland said. "We've also concentrated on opening up new passing options in our break out because we have struggled with it in the last few games."
The Terps will have to shut down top scorer Paul Ingles who has 61 points in 26 games.
"Liberty is a good team with a couple really dangerous forwards," Tom Jaquay, senior forward, said. "I think last weekend, even though we got beat pretty bad, we learned a bit more about how to play smarter against better teams."
Liberty will most likely play either senior Justin Gortman (3.22 GAA, .884 SV%) or freshman Cary Byron (2.22 GAA, .913 SV%) in net. Either sophomore Tanner MacPhee (4.55 GAA, .869 SV%) or sophomore Sean Rankin (1.84 GAA, .905 SV%) will backstop the Terps.
"We can just sit back and wait for our opportunities rather than be too aggressive," Jaquay said.
After a disheartening weekend that saw the Terps walk away with two losses, Maryland looks to get right back on track against Delaware and Georgetown.
With the Terps failing to score a single goal in either of the two games, the focus of practice this week was pretty clear: generating offense. Head Coach Bill Krampf thought that while the team played well defensively last weekend, you can’t win games with no offensive production.
“Virginia Tech and Liberty are good clubs and we did a good job limiting good scoring chances,” Krampf said. “On the flip side we posted a double goose egg last weekend on our side of the scoreboard. We don't beat Delaware of Georgetown this weekend if we don't score.”
The team plays so well defensively because it has full trust in their goaltending, no matter if it is Tanner MacPhee or Sean Rankin between the pipes. MacPhee had a huge weekend, posting a .947 save percentage in both games. And while Rankin gave up three quick goals in the first period against Virginia tech, it was very much a fluke game. Rankin has a 6-1-0 record this season, and has the 10th best goals against average in the ACHA, according to achahockey.org.
“On any hockey team the guys play better when they trust the guy between the pipes,” Krampf said. “We are very fortunate to have Tanner and Sean in net this year. They have both played very well and the boys have confidence they will make the saves they need to make.”
While the team struggled offensively this past weekend, generating offense hasn’t been much of an issue all season. Only one player on the roster has yet to record a point, and six different players have more than 10 points on the year. Add that to the physical defensive play, it’s a team that can out work any opponent. The highly aggressive defensive play is headlined by hard-nosed defenseman Ian Patrican, whose 23 penalty minutes is second on the team. Add that to the large statures of Eddie Martin, Sean Walsh and Rob Burns, and mix in the destructive forwards Tyler Glaze (leading the team with 28 penalty minutes) Avery Clair (22 penalty minutes), Jake Friedland and Brad Gratton (each with 14 penalty minutes), it is difficult to generate offensive against them, considering they can mostly be found on different lines.
The two losses last week didn’t help out Maryland’s playoff chances, and every win from here on out counts.
“Friday is a must win in order to make the MACH South playoffs so that is our focus at this point,” Krampf said. “I am less worried about rankings right now than I am league playoffs.”
Maryland has already played both Delaware and Georgetown this season. They beat Delaware 5-2 on Dec. 6. Clair recorded two goals, and Sean Pickens, Tom Jaquay and Casey Meadows each added a goal of their own. Maryland also found themselves on the winning side of the Georgetown game in a 4-3 overtime thriller.
Tonight is Senior Night for the Terps, and the team will celebrate with a pre game ceremony for those graduating. The team features seven seniors, all of whom have left a big mark on the team.
“I hate senior night,” Krampf said. “I know it is time for these guys to graduate and get a real job. But it takes four years for them to figure out how to tie their skates and not screw up my drills, and then they graduate. We will have a new batch to teach next year. Hopefully they are quicker than the guys moving on this year. I will miss every one of them.”
Maryland plays Delaware tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Herbert Wells. The Georgetown game is away.
Two back to back games after a long break offered the Terps a chance to continue a push towards regionals this past weekend, but Maryland was blanked in both matchups, 4-0 against Virginia Tech, 3-0 against Liberty.
“We were short handed for both games due to injuries and personal conflicts but as we discussed, we were not going to make any excuses,” Head Coach Bill Krampf said. “The seven week break showed up early in the first period against Virginia Tech as we spotted them three goals very early in the first. The rest of the game was a 1-0 contest. We were outshot but the guys settled in and played better hockey.”
The second game didn’t work out much better.
“We gave up one in the first and nothing in the second so we were down 1-0 against one of the best teams in the region,” Krampf said. “Unfortunately we got a couple bad bounces in the third and ended up losing 3-0. I liked our execution against Liberty but we couldn't finish around their net. Hopefully better in that department this weekend.”
“(We) played sound in the defensive zone but just couldn't take advantage of the opportunities we got,” Sean Pickens said. “Tanner played unbelievable and made a few big time stops to keep us in the game.”
MacPhee faced a flurry of shots this weekend, and managed to record 71 saves on 75 shot attempts, good for an excellent .947 save percentage on the weekend.
The Terps hope a week back on campus gets them right back into their regular routine. Maryland is set to face the University of Delaware this Friday, and face an away matchup on Saturday.