By Neil Kavanaugh
The Catholic University hockey team opened up its 2018-19 campaign at home with a 4-3 decisive victory over American University at Fort Dupont Arena last Friday. The team went down 0-1 early in the first period on a penalty kill due to a shot from the point by an American defenseman. This stayed constant until late in the second period when the Cardinals scored to tie it up. American quickly answered to get the one goal lead back. These teams went back and forth trading blows and having key scoring opportunities throughout the rest of the second period. The Cardinals received a lucky bounce and tied the game, 2-2.
It quickly became a very gritty game. Freshman Ross Artale was ejected and received a one game suspension. Intense hits were dealt out by both teams.
The third period was where the Catholic University Cardinals really showed up. Five minutes into the third period, American went up by one again. Instead of accepting defeat, Catholic University fought with renewed intensity.
“There were plenty of times in the game where the team could have thrown in the towel with how the game was playing out as far as penalties,” said head coach Will Johnston.
The Cardinals scored two back-to-back backdoor goals to rally past the American Eagles 4-3, winning their home opener.
Senior Billy Braungart was a key player in the game, and was very pleased with the team’s performance.
“I think beating American was a huge confidence booster for us as well as proving we are definitely going in the right direction. As long as we keep going in the right direction and keep going on this path we will be where we want to be at the end of the season,” said Braungert.
The team spent the majority of the time on the penalty kill during the game.
“[Staying out of the box] comes down to discipline and experience. It was the first game of the season, and the first game for a lot players in college,” stated Johnston. “There were a lot first game jitters going around and it’s hard to stay focused and remain disciplined. I think moving forward the players will begin to know what to expect of the refs and change up their game accordingly.”
The biggest difference from last year for the team is the depth. Last season there was six skaters and one goalie, but this year the team bolsters nineteen skaters and two goalies. There has also been a big change in the attitude of the team. The team is more invested and excited to see what comes next. The Cardinals’ next game is at the Fort Dupont Arena on Friday at 9:45 against Salisbury.