White Twp., Pa. — The College Hockey Mid America conference officially started its first full season since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The IUP Crimson Hawks played their first game in over 18 months Friday at S&T Bank Arena, defeating the Temple Owls in dominant fashion, 5-3.
A return to normal
With only three conference teams in action during the 2020-21 campaign – Robert Morris, Mercyhurst, and West Virginia, the latter only playing only two games – the season didn’t quite feel real. IUP sat at home and watched as Robert Morris was crowned CHMA champions. The Hawks watched the Colonials become the second conference team, and first since West Virginia in 2012, to advance past the first round of the ACHA Tournament. It was supposed to be IUP in 2020, before the ACHA canceled the national tournament. Coming into the 2021-22 season, IUP had unfinished business, as Hawks’ head coach Joe Honzo stated before the game.
“Our message to our kids was we have some unfinished business. We know we didn’t get to complete our journey from winning the [conference] title a year and a half ago. We’re more than motivated to get back there this year.”
And by the looks of it, IUP wants to get back to the championship.
It was an even game up until midway through the second period. Knotted up 2-2, IUP rattled off three successive goals by by Dom Glavach, Gavin Cummings, and Jordan Adams to take a 5-2 lead into the second intermission. Julien Rudolph managed to get one back for Temple with about four minutes remaining in the third period, but the damage had been done and IUP took the 5-3 victory to open the season.
Despite the long period of time since these teams last hit the ice, there was no rust to shake off. The speed of the game picked up quickly from the first drop of the puck. IUP jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals by Jake Casto. The first came at 3:18 off a quick rebound from Temple goaltender Joey Galitski. The second was a quick backhand under Galitski’s pad just four minutes later.
When it looked like Temple was being worn down, some penalties on the part of the Hawks gave the Owls the opening they needed. After David Wilf cut IUP’s lead in half at the halfway point of the period, Michael Irey tied the game 2-2 on a power play goal just a couple minutes later. The Owls then had even more chances to score in the late stages of the first period, but key saves by hawks goaltender Jared Stahel to kill a 5-on-3 kept the game knotted 2-2 at the end of the first period.
Then the second period fireworks happened from Glavach, Cummings, and Adams to secure the 5-3 win for IUP.
IUP goaltender Jared Stahel made 30 saves on 33 shots in the win, while his counterpart, Joey Galitski, made 31 saves on 36 shots in the loss.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday, Sep. 11 at S&T Bank Arena at 4:30 p.m.
MAJOR FOCUS: IUP OPENS NEW SEASON WITH A BANG