Over the past two seasons, the UMBC men’s hockey team has struggled to win games away from home. That trend continued this year. After defeating the Towson University Tigers 5-4 on Friday, the Retrievers are now 1-4 on the young season.
Among the losses, consecutive defeats to Ohio University Bobcats and a nail biter against the University of Louisville Cardinals. In the second of two games against the Bobcats, UMBC almost overcame a 5-2 first-period deficit, but fell 6-5. The Retrievers tried for another comeback against the high-powered Louisville team. The Cardinals led 4-1 toward the end of the second period. Then, UMBC stormed back with two unanswered goals right before the second intermission and seven minutes into the final frame.
The Retrievers defeated Towson on Oct. 7 to avoid a win-less road trip. UMBC’s victory came on the strength of junior goalkeeper Dylan Knox’s 50 saves.
In that span, the Retrievers have a goal differential of minus seven. The disparity in shots on goal is even larger. Opponents owned a 216-1118 shots on goal advantage over UMBC during the road trip. The Retrievers look to use their nine-game homestand to rebound.
UMBC is showing great improvement at playing at home over the past two seasons. As hosts, the Retrievers have a goal differential of plus 19 since 2014.
UMBC hopes to get back on track Saturday, Oct. 15 against the Virginia Tech Hokies (1-2-0). Virginia Tech comes in for the final game of their five-game road trip. The Hokies have a goal differential of minus one through three games. Half of their 14 goals came in a 7-2 victory over the West Chester University Rams on Sept. 30. The past couple of years on the road were up and down for the Hokies. Virginia Tech is 14-12 away from Blacksburg with a plus 10 goal differential.
If they hope to succeed, the Retrievers need to help out their goalkeeper on defense. Knox’s save percentage is similar to last years rates. His goals against average have skyrocketed from 2.94 to 5.40. Keeping opponents from doubling up the Retrievers in shots on goal is key. Junior forward Colin Edwards looks to continue setting up his teammates with good looks at the net. As of Oct. 2, Edwards leads the team in points (9) and assists (6).
UMBC will look to get off to better starts during their homestand. As of Oct. 2, opponents have outscored UMBC 10-4 in the first period this year. In the other three periods, the Retriever have scored 10 goals and allowed 12.
Despite the change in venue, the Retrievers road to victory will not be easy. Of the seven teams UMBC hosts over the next month, only Saint Joseph’s University has a losing record on the road since 2014. The Hawks are 2-21 on the road since 2014.
Those numbers include a 0-15 road mark in 2014-15. The Hawks have a minus 106 goal differential in that time. This year, St. Josephs has yet to win on the road and have given up twice as many goals as thy have scored.
In order to get back to a .500 record, the Retrievers have to go 6-3 on this homestand. A win in their home opener against Virginia Tech starts them off on the right foot.