Towson Hockey primed for rivalry game vs. Navy
After two tough losses to the Drexel Dragons Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 , members of the Towson hockey team said they have been practicing hard for Friday’s game at the Naval Academy. Focus, optimism and confidence are the words spoken by the players and coaching staff heading into the rivalry game.
“This is a team we are battling currently for first place,” Assistant Head Coach Rich Jondo said. “This is a playoff game for us, we need to come away with a regulation win.”
The coaching staff has emphasized the team’s forecheck and neutral zone play in practice this week, both of which were problems against Drexel.
“We really wanted to beat them,” junior forward Drew Zucker said. “Two losses to them really hurt us.”
With those two losses in the books, the Tigers are looking to stay focused on the game against Navy, the most important game of the season thus far, according to Jondo.
“Going into their building right before the break and stealing a win would be huge,” he said.
Not only does Navy have home-ice advantage, its home rink is an Olympic-size ice sheet, a much larger territory. Towson plays on a standard NHL-size sheet which is 85 feet by 200 feet as opposed to an Olympic-size sheet, 100 feet wide by 200 feet.
An Olympic ice sheet provides more room for defensemen to jump into the play offensively. However, the Tigers’ blueline will be without one of its top puck-movers.
Junior defenseman Patrick St. Clair separated his shoulder in Towson’s 5-4 win over Villanova Nov. 16. St.Clair isn’t expected back in action until after winter break when the team plays Lebanon Valley College Jan. 11.
“I’m incredibly mad that I’m missing [this game],” St. Clair said. “It’s hard not being able to play.”
Towson’s defense will have to compensate to fill the hole in the lineup. Sophomore defenseman Casey Jendras is expected to see more ice time Friday night to fill St. Clair’s place.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. at the Naval Academy’s McMullen Ice Center.