At this point in its season, the Penn men's ice hockey club is not focusing on scoring goals. Instead, coach Josh Remick is forcing his Quakers to divert their attention to the defensive end of the rink. "We are focusing on playing on our own end," Remick said. "We know that we can score, but we need to tighten up our defensive coverage." The Red and Blue (6-4-0) are off to an encouraging start for their season. The team is proving itself a reputable contender in the very competitive Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association. Penn has won its last four games, boosting its record and confidence. This past weekend, Penn annihilated William Patterson, winning 9-1. However, the most impressive victory came last Sunday night in New York City against NYU. The Violets are currently ranked third in the Northeastern National Conference. The Quakers hope victory over such a high-ranked team will gain attention for them from the ranking committee. "Our season definitely picked up this last weekend," Remick said. "We are currently unranked. But with these past wins, especially the one against NYU, hopefully that will change." The game against NYU was a bitterly fought struggle. NYU jumped to an early lead, going up 1-0. Penn assistant captain Whit Matthews responded with a controversial goal that involved a scuffle with NYU's goalie. A fight broke out between the two teams, and the Quakers emerged with a goal, plus two penalties. In the second period, NYU put two quick goals in the net within 10 minutes. Although the Quakers were down 3-1, they continued to battle against the Violets. With seven minutes to go in the second period, Owen Callahan scored on a rebound for the Quakers. Dan Gabbay boosted the team's confidence heading into the third period by scoring with only 42 seconds on the clock. The Quakers and Violets spent the third period tied 3-3. With only 46 seconds left in the game, captain Colby Zaph backhanded the game-winning shot into the far side of the Violets net. Penn managed to hold onto its lead as the last few seconds ticked away. "It was really exciting," Matthews said. "This was a really big win for us since NYU is so highly ranked." The Red and Blue have found success in their new defensive strategy, which has augmented their talented offense. "We weren't playing tight hockey at the beginning of our season," Remick said. "Now we're running over teams because it has become a total team effort." The Quakers have also worked on staying focused throughout the entire game. "Even though we are a smaller team, we are quicker and more skilled," Matthews said. "Our biggest issue is coming to play for 60 minutes. We have to stay completely focused from the first puck drop to the final buzzer." The Quakers are now focusing on the near future as their schedule picks up. "Our next games are extra important because we can gain a lot more attention from the ranking committee," Matthews said. "If we play smart, we can win, and should win." If Penn continues to play well, they have a viable chance to make the MACHA playoffs in February. Remick is confident that the team can make not only the MACHA playoffs, but also the national tournament. In order to do so, the team must beat some formidable opponents. "This year, we've got the teams that are ranked highly every year," Matthews said. "If we beat those teams, we definitely have a good chance at a bid." Penn's quest continues this weekend as they face Millersville and Monmouth. Next week, the Quakers will face off against the Princeton Tigers. "Princeton is always a big game, but that is for obvious reasons," Matthews noted.Comments powered by Disqus
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