By: Staff

The Gators are excited to announce the hiring of their new Head Coach, Frank Pasquale, who will begin his role with the D2 team for the 2023-24 season.

“I am extremely thrilled and honored to be the Florida Gators coach for the upcoming season.  Previous Coach Mike Marcinkiewicz played a large role in helping elevate the club during his eight seasons, and my coaching staff and I look forward to continuing the upward trajectory”, said Pasquale.  “With a talented core of returning players and some very accomplished new players coming to Gainesville, the future looks bright for us.”

Pasquale is a USA Hockey Level 5 coach and has more than 20 years of experience coaching on Long Island, NY, at the 14/16/18U AAA levels, as well as Junior Hockey.  He has helped develop and move players to the USHL, DI college, ECHL, AHL and NHL.

Joining him on the bench will be assistant coaches Frank Cervasio and Mike Parimucha, both of whom possess a wealth of playing experience in the Northeast at the junior, prep school, and collegiate ranks.  “We feel confident about the skill set our coaching staff brings to the Gators, and Frank and Mike will be integral parts of our organization,” said Pasquale.  “We plan to not only help the players in the areas of skill development and team play, but to create a culture that will attract high-level players and quality individuals to our program for years to come.”

Florida Gators Take Sixth Place in CHS Playoffs, Falling to FAU Owls on Saturday

By: Marinna Stopa

After losing to Alabama in the quarterfinals, Saturday afternoons contest against Florida Atlantic University was to decide fifth place.

FAU came out of the locker room flying, scoring three goals in the first period. The first one, coming three and a half minutes in, was a powerplay goal from a well-versed power play unit.

The teams’ power play unit got plenty of reps in the previous day against the University of Georgia, where they had nine chances with the man advantage, capitalizing on three of them.

The game for Florida didn’t really get started until the last handful of minutes.

Center Parker Mara, with assists by defenseman Bohdi Duncan and left-winger Nick McCann, shoveled one past FAU goaltender Gunnar Stevens, giving their team some life back with three and a half to go in the period.

Less than two minutes later, center Tom Walker got his fourth of the season, with an assist by right-wing Joshua Weinstein. With this goal, the lead was cut in half, bringing UF into the middle frame only down by one.

The South Florida team would strike again a minute and a half into the second period, re-extending their team’s lead to two.

Six short minutes later, Maxim Thellab secured his first goal of the game when he picked up a loose puck in front of the net, capitalizing on a frazzled FAU defense.

Mara and McCann both gained their second points of the night with assists on Florida’s third goal of the game.

The Gators finally tied up scoring with eight and a half to go in the period, again with a goal by Thellab and an assist by Mara.

However, this would not stay for long, as the Owls scored on the following shift fifteen seconds later. Jacob Friedman and Myles Davidson would each get their second point of the game to put their team back on top.

Keith Goldberg further extended that lead, shooting the puck clear over Nathan Shield’s glove with six to go in the period.

At this point, interim head coach John Hunt decided to pull the Florida goalie, replacing him with Mason Burdick, who played yesterday in the loss against Alabama (link).

Right at the start of the final frame, following a short intermission, Florida would, once again, claw back to within one. With his second point of the game, Weinstein got a beautiful puck past Stevens’ shoulder before the FAU goalie even knew what was coming, with assists by Josh Horwitz and Quinn Shepard.

For the remainder of the period, the Gators gave it everything they had, putting nearly twenty shots on net and producing beautiful opportunities on its two power plays. Unfortunately, they were not successful in completing the comeback once more, and, with Burdick pulled from his net, FAU was able to end the game with an empty net goal with thirty seconds remaining.

To end the season, ten players were in the double digits for points, with captain Connor Nicholson in the lead with 29. The senior also led his team in assists, with 22.

Thellab was the team’s leading goal scorer, with 18 on the season.

Five players were averaging at least a point per game; Luke Braun, Parker Mara, Connor Nicholson, Maxim Thellab and Nick McCann.

Zack Zelmanski spent the equivalent of an hour in the box over the course of the season, leading the team with 61 penalty minutes, made up of 23 minor penalties and three majors.

Even though this final result is not what the Gators wanted, this season certainly showed a sneak peak into a prosperous future.

Most of the team is underclassman, with less than a handful graduating this spring, so the team will be full of familiar faces come next fall.

This 13-8-1 final record is a stark difference compared to last seasons, where the Gators ended 5-10-1.

There is much to be excited about for the Florida Gators and the team thanks you for supporting them every step of the way.

The University of Florida Gators sent fifty-seven shots on net, but were unable to defeat the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in the quarterfinals.

By: Marinna Stopa

The game late Friday night in Huntsville was a true battle between two equally strong teams, but one too many mistakes and the goalie showdown proved to decide the end result.

The Gators got a power play less than three minutes into the game, and although they were not able to capitalize, proved to give the team a flow of momentum that continued for the rest of the frame.

Despite all of the offensive chances for UF, it was Alabama that opened up the scoring for the match.

Defenseman Benjamin Breen was able to capitalize on a bad line change and get one past UF goalie Mason Burdick, giving his team the lead with three minutes to go in the period.

In the opening draw of the second period, Alabama would receive their fourth penalty of the game, going against their most penalized player, center Max Savaloja.

Florida would take advantage of the extra space on the ice quickly, with Maxim Thellab and Parker Mara working together to create a beautiful set up that ends up behind Alabama goalie Luc Haggitt.

For the next nineteen minutes, the two teams played aggressive, tough hockey, creating turnovers and laying big against the boards. All of the offensive and defensive pressure for both sides amounted to nothing and the Gators and Crimson Tide went into the final period still tied at one a piece.

Less than four minutes into the final frame, Breen got his second of the game off a super clean shot that flew straight over Burdick’s glove, restoring the Alabama lead.

The Tide would strike once more with seven minutes to go, with Breen scoring his third in a row for a natural hat trick off a 2-0 breakaway chance where Burdick had no chance.

In true Florida spirit, the team played till the very end, and with the Gator goalie pulled, forward Nick McCann was able to shovel one past Haggit to bring the score to 3-2.

With only twenty seconds to go following the goal, the Gators were unable to find the equalizer and fell to #3 seed Alabama.

Rightfully so, Burdick was awarded UF’s player of the game for his outstanding performance against a sizzling Alabama offense. He saved 37 of the 40 shots for a .925 save percentage and made some incredible moves to bail out his team at the right time.

Overall, the team played extremely well, but Alabama was able to capitalize on the few mistakes they did have.

Senior center Parker Mara was absolutely everywhere on the ice, creating really great chances for his team and for himself.

Senior captain Connor Nicholson sacrificed his body on more than one occasion to prevent pucks from hitting Burdick and played a very physical game.

Sophomore Matthew Brkljacic was flying around the rink, seemingly making the journey from one end of the ice to the other in just a couple of strides, doing so while making key defensive plays for his team.

The Gators will play for the final time during the 2022-23 season Saturday afternoon at 3:30 CST (4:30 EST), against the Florida Atlantic Owls, who lost to Georgia right after the

conclusion of the Florida game. This meeting will decide fifth place in the College Hockey South playoffs.

When the two teams met in November, both games got one win each, with both games going into overtime and ending in 5-4 decisions.

Playoff Preview: University of Alabama Crimson Tide

By: Marinna Stopa

Friday night’s matchup between the Gators and the Crimson Tide will certainly be one you don’t want to miss.

Finishing with a 13-6-1 record, the University of Florida earned the #6 slot in the College Hockey South playoffs.

They will face the University of Alabama, who own the #3 seed with their 16-6-1 record.

Accounting for the fact that Alabama has played three more games than UF, the two teams have equal records and pretty similar team feats.

Both teams average five goals a game, around two goals more than their opponent on average.

In terms of power play goals, the Gators have 26 – more than double as many as the Crimson Tide with 12.

So while Florida has proven to have a more lethal power play, Alabama will certainly give the team some competition.

Both teams have some of the best penalty killing units in the league. Alabama has allowed the second-least amount with 8 and Florida isn’t too far behind in fourth place having allowed 12.

With that, Alabama is also tied for second in the league with the most short handed goals with 13. Florida sits in eleventh place with eight.

The Gators look to maintain its offensive dominance rolling into this weekend, having scored ten goals in its last three games.

Four of these came from forward Maxim Thellab (#47), who starts off the top three players to watch for Florida this weekend.

One could say #47 is on fire offensively right now, but to be honest, he hasn’t cooled down since his first goal in September against USF.

In his last ten games played, he’s put ten goals on the board and assisted with another, for a total of 11 points.

The freshman is averaging over a point per game this season, having 15 goals, 5 assists for 20 points in 19 games played.

Of Jackson Choi’s six assists this season, half of them have been to Thellab, including one of his two goals against FSU a couple of weeks ago.

The left winger has 14 goals and 6 assists for a total of 20 points in 20 games played. This means the Maryland native is also playing at a point per game rate going into the game against Alabama.

In his last ten, the freshman has six goals and five assists, for eleven total points. Against FSU, he had the first goal of the game and an assist to Thellab, which ended up being the game winning pass.

With the most assists and points on the team, Captain Connor Nicholson has led his team to victory many times this season.

In fact, in the center’s twenty appearances this season, he’s had five games with two or more points and has only been withheld from the score sheet only four times, one of which was the shutout against Tampa.

With seven goals and a whopping 22 assists for a total of 29 points, this puts the senior in the top 5% of the league in scoring.

On the other bench, Alabama has some offensive weapons of their own to look out.

Max Savaloja has 24 goals and 16 assists for a total of 40 points in twenty-one games played, a rate of about two points a game.

The center is currently riding a three game point streak, with 6 goals and 2 assists against Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee.

While #10 is an offensive threat, he also leads his team in penalty minutes, with 50. This is twice as much as the player in second place.

Right behind him in the scoring race, Matthew Dumond has 37 points in 21 appearances, with 13 goals and 24 assists.

The forward hasn’t been absent from the scoresheet since mid-November, accumulating 17 points in the seven games played in the three months since.

Alabamas (probable) starting goalie is Luc Haggit.

In his 15 games played, he has posted a .916 save percentage, allowing an average of two goals behind him.

He is coming off a 21-save shutout, his fourth of the year, against Tennessee two weeks ago.

You can watch this game in real life at the Ice Sports Center in Huntsville, AL, where tickets are $10 a day and can be purchased at the arena or here.

You can also watch a live stream of the game here.

Gators Dominate Florida State Seminoles in Final Regular Season Game

By: Marinna Stopa

En route to a 5-1 win, the University of Florida Gators played a complete game, dominating offensively, making key defensive plays and dazzling the home crowd.

Unlike the two in-state rivals’ previous meeting in Savannah, where Florida took home the Thrasher Cup for the second year in a row, the Seminoles began the game with a threatening opposition against the Gators.

Fortunately for the home team, Florida was able to gain and maintain pressure in the offensive zone, not giving Florida State much opportunity to gather any momentum.

To start off the scoring onslaught, with assists from defenseman Matthew Brkljacic and forward Mamim Thellab, forward Jackson Choi was able to get a quick shot into the net just over seven minutes into the game. This was goal number 14 on the season for the freshman.

At this point, most of what little energy the Seminoles had was lost and, instead, transferred over to the Gators.

Less than four minutes later, the same three players combined once again to extend their teams’ lead by a pair. This time around, Choi and Brkljacic sent a pass to Thellab shooting down the middle of the ice, who was able to lift the puck clean over FSU’s goalie Ryan Malvaso’s glove.

With this point, Brkljacic increased his season assist totals to double digits, with 10 on the season.

With an on-fire offense, the Seminoles defense was spilling all over the ice, leaving players unattended, taking bad penalties and leaving their goalie out to dry.

The Gators definitely took advantage of all of the open ice, ringing shots off the crossbar and forcing the Seminoles goalie to, literally, pull out all the stops.

To finish off the first period, forward Joshua Weinstein got his eighth goal of the season with the help of defenseman Bohdi Duncan and forward Quinn Shepard, bringing both of their season point totals to five.

Following an absolutely dominating first period, the Seminoles came out of the locker room not willing to back down.

Despite Duncan’s massive hit in front of the net, center Mitch Gordon was able to get one back for FSU eight minutes into the period off a defensive breakdown by the Gators.

Even though the Seminoles pushed back more defensively and offensively, Florida still had plenty of shots on net. About half way through the period, Malvaso looked to be in considerable pain after he made a series of really great saves.

With the extended pause to check out the Seminole goalie, Florida Head Coach Mike Marcinkiewicz decided to pull goalie Burdick to split the game with Shield, giving them both ample playing time before the playoffs.

In the last twenty minutes, forward Connor Nicholson was able to get one of his own at the halfway point of the period. For the captain, this was his team-leading 27th point of the season and his second goal in two games. With assists by forwards Nick McCann and Evan Edwards, the pairs’ point totals increased to 15 and 19, respectively, on the season.

To seal the deal, Thellab got his second goal and third point of the afternoon with less than five to go in the game, assisted by defenseman Zach Zelmanski, his seventh assist of the season.

In the two meetings between the in-state rivals, shots from Florida got to the Florida State net a whopping 109 times, with 11 of those landing behind the goalie. This means that for just about every 10 shots, the Gators got one goal.

In comparison, the Seminoles only managed to get two of the teams’ 42 shots behind Burdick and Shields, for an incredible .952 save percentage.

Next for the Gators is CHS playoffs in Huntsville, Alabama, but the opponent is unknown because the official bracket has yet to be released.

Nonetheless, the first game will be during the late afternoon or evening of Friday, February 24th.

The Gators Battle in Two Tough Losses Against the Undefeated University of Tampa 

By: Marinna Stopa 

            Handing the undefeated University of Tampa Spartans its toughest battle yet, Friday night started the Gaspierlla weekend off with a bang. 

            Aided by the cheers of a voluminous and rowdy student section, the Gators got the game started quickly, keeping play away from goalie Nathan Shield, in for his second straight start, and in the Tampa zone. 

            Despite the team’s offensive efforts, it would be Tampa that would get the first goal of the game nearly five minutes into the first period, off a slapshot that sailed right over Shield’s glove side. 

            Florida did not let this slip up stop them and were able to score its first goal of the game on the powerplay with 11:11 to go in the opening period. Off a shot from the point made by defenseman Vaclav Prospal, forward Jackson Choi was able to clean up the rebound and get it behind Tampa goalie Shea Grant. 

            Less than three minutes later, with the Spartans distracted by a “missed call” by the referees, forward Joshua Weinstein was able to capitalize on Tampa’s lack of attention and whistle a shot into their net, giving the Gators its first lead of the night.

            Tampa forward Colm Trainor was able to tie the score up at two a piece with less than six to go in the first frame, getting a shot past the Gator defense’s blocks. 

            Florida was able to regain the lead yet again with 90 seconds left to go in the period, with a goal by center Max Thellab off great passes by center Parker Mara and Choi. 

            To start the second, Tampa put up two goals, taking the lead back, the second of which was scored only a couple of seconds into the teams’ fourth power play of the night. 

            This didn’t last long, however, after Florida also got its fourth power play opportunity of the night with under seven minutes to go in the period. Choi got his second goal of the game, this time off a beautiful pass by Mara right in front of the netminder that the forward was able to shovel away. 

            Capitalizing on a 5-on-3 opportunity later in the period, Thellab then got his second of the game, with assists going to Mara and defenseman Matthew Brkljacic.

            The Gators went into the final frame in the lead yet again, this time with 5-4 on the board. 

            Just like the previous period, the Spartans were able to tie up the game then take back the lead quickly to start the third period, with both goals coming within the first six minutes. 

            With just under four to go, Tampa got its final goal of the night, extending its lead to two. 

            Center Luke Braun wouldn’t let his team go down without a fighting chance, scoring his eleventh goal of the season with three and a half minutes to go. 

            Unfortunately, the Gators couldn’t tie up the score for a final time in the dying minutes despite incredible efforts to do so and the Spartans took the Friday night battle 7-6. 

            Of the 21 games they’ve played thus far, this is only the sixth time Tampa trailed at some point of the game – and only the third where they trailed multiple times.  

            Florida’s six goals were the most the Spartans had given up all season and most since October 30, 2021, when they also gave up six to Embry-Riddle.

Previously, they had given up four goals in four separate games, but haven’t since the beginning of November against UNC-Wilmington. 

Key Florida Players: 

  • Jackson Choi: (2G, 1A) 
  • Maxim Thellab: (2 G)
  • Parker Mara: (3A)

The fact that it was Gasparilla weekend was definitely apparent two days later, when the two teams rematched Sunday afternoon. 

Play seemed​ to happen in slow motion on both ends of the ice for b​oth teams. 

With that being said, it was a much more defensively-focused game. 

It was an absolute clinic in both nets, as both goalies pulled out all of their moves to shut the game down offensively.

Passes were crisper, penalty kills were tighter, and hits were better received, especially compared to Friday night.

Many of Florida’s problems stemmed from sloppy play in front of goalie Mason Burdock and at the blue line. 

This is the reason the first goal of the game, scored by Tampa defenseman Daniel Griffen for his second of the weekend, hit the back of the net half way through the game. 

Spartan goaltender Will DeCaso put a couple of really great saves on Choi and Weinstein at the end of the second period, keeping his teams’ lead to one and his shutout campaign intact. 

Off a tough giveaway at the blue line by center Tom Walker, forward Jake Karant was able to go one-on-one with Burdock and score, extending the Gator deficit to two. 

With ten minutes to go in the third period, Karant would strike again, this time on the power play, solidifying the 3-0 UF loss.

With the two losses, the Florida Gators fall to eighth place in the CHS and snap a six game win streak that stretched back to the overtime win against FAU in early November. 

The team will travel to Columbus, GA this weekend to take on the Auburn Tigers (9-7-3), hoping to get back in the win column and enter the playoffs on solid footing. 

You can watch the game on Friday, Feb. 3 at 8:00 PM online here or purchase tickets here

You can watch the game on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2:00 PM online here or purchase tickets here

Felton Shines, Gators Fall Just Short in 4-3 Overtime Loss (DIII)

Written by Marinna Stopa

Gator goaltender Sophie Felton stole the show late Friday night against the University of South Florida, doing her best to get the Gators DIII team back into the winning column.

 Both teams came out playing hard and fast, with plenty of breakaways and hits throughout the game that would wake up just about any hockey team.

Initially, USF had a lot of offensive zone time, putting some early shots on Felton and the Gator defense, but Florida was able to quickly match the energy.

Forward Jonah Schulman was able to pierce through the pressure with a breakaway of his own, forcing an off-guard USF team to commit a penalty to prevent the first goal of the game.

Although nothing showed up on the scoresheet as a result, the power play injected some energy and motivation into both teams, especially after Felton made a couple of huge stops on Clayton Sanders, the penalized USF player, right after the penalty expired.

Shortly after, a Gator providing a goal-front screen was crosschecked by USF’s Yuriy Nazarko, pushed right into the Bulls goalie Garrett Trotman. There was a bit of confusion on the call, as USF thought the penalty should have gone to the Gators for Goalie Interference, but the referees ruled he was illegally pushed into the goalmouth and the Gators went back on the man-advantage.

UF had a much better powerplay the second time around. The Gators were able to keep the puck in the USF zone for most of the two minutes, putting some great pressure on the Bulls’ goalie. Still nothing came of it after two minutes with the second man advantage situation of the period.

 The first frame was relatively quiet following the second USF penalty, at least until the last five minutes of play, when Florida would finally open the scoring for the game.

Center Captain Xavier Morris stripped a USF forward at the top of the center, set up, and launched a shot to the top right shelf, beating the goalie cleanly. The entire Florida bench and all Gator fans in attendance celebrated, hoping this was a sign of the team righting their ship and getting back to their early-season winning form.

 UF would get another man advantage opportunity before the period expired, their third of the night already. The power play unit still did not click, and the USF penalty kill, once again, proved dangerous, with one of the most threatening offensive chances of the power play coming from a South Florida penalty killer just as the two minutes dwindled down.

The lone Bull forward ripped a shot off the post. Much of the crowd and skaters on both teams were unable to decipher if it had gone in, but the puck stayed out, trickling across the goal line. Thankfully, a UF player cleared down the ice and out of harm’s way quickly, so play was able to resume with the Gators still up by one.

Nonetheless, the Gators went into the second period with a 1-0 lead.

With a penalty handed to center Makena Winch as the first period winded down, Florida had to finish out over ninety seconds of their first penalty against to start the second.

Shortly after successfully killing off the shortened penalty, Winch came out of the box and, with forward Samuel Ryan, was able to create a great 2-on-1 breakaway chance, with Trotman able to make a great blocker save on Ryan’s shot to keep his team in the game.

Eight minutes into the second frame, defenseman Maxwell Carter got caught tripping a South Florida player and was sent to the box, giving UF its second penalty of the period. The Bulls were able to capitalize on the man advantage opportunity and tie up the game.

 On the power play, Felton faced the first shot of the game that she had no real chance at getting, which was remarkable considering some of the acrobatic saves she had been making throughout the game.

However, Florida would regroup and respond quickly, with defenseman Dylan Morton getting his fifth goal of the season off a failed clearing attempt by the USF goaltender. Instead of sending it to his own player as intended, Trotman shot it right to Morton, who was able to shoot it at the goalie, collect his own rebound, and tuck it away on the second try.

Having taken the lead back, the Gator defense continued laying out in front of shots, using their bodies and sticks to stop any shot they could from reaching Felton.

Maxwell Carter and Chris Broski especially were both all over the ice, acting as extensions of the goalie while simultaneously trying to score at the other end, somehow all at once. Their efforts seemed to have paid off, as UF led going into the third, 2-1.

Just over a minute into the third period, UF was given its fourth power play of the night. Less than halfway through the man advantage, Morris was able to cash in off a tip in front of the net, and with the Florida power play finally breaking through, the team’s captain was able to extend their teams lead to two with 18 minutes to go in the third.

But the joy of the powerplay breaking through would be short-lived: a mere 57-seconds later, USF would get one right back, as forward Colin Smargon’s slapshot soared right over Felton’s glove.

The fatigue was evident in the third period, as head coach Brad Christman began primarily rolling out the top two forward and defensive lines, giving them minimal time to recover before hopping back on the ice.

Cooper Kappeler still put on a show, using some nice toe-drags and jukes to make USF defenders look silly. Unfortunately, despite his some of his great efforts, he was unable to find the back of the net.

With 4 minutes and 47 seconds left to go, USF would tie the game up, knocking the wind out of an already tired Gators team. Following the Bulls’ goal, both teams seemed to play a bit more conservatively, seemingly okay with finishing the contest in extra time.

During the 3-on-3 overtime, the Gators and Bulls went back and forth down the ice, fully utilizing all the extra space with alternating odd-man breaks.

In the end, the Gators were unable to stave off the Bulls comeback, as USF center Mark Olson scored just under three minutes into overtime.

Despite the result, the team showed some great signs of improvement, with its first game of 2023 proving to be much closer than the last couple of matches entering Friday night. Though the win and the full two points would have been optimal, the team still picked up a point with the overtime loss. The results keeps them ahead of fourth-place Florida Tech, who picked up 3 out of 4 points this weekend against ERAU to pull level with the UF DIII squad, but have played 3 more games than the Gators.

The University of Florida DIII Gators won’t be in action again for another two weeks, where they will meet the Florida Southern College Water Moccasins in Lakeland on February 3rd and 4th.

Edited by Makena Winch

Gators Division III Fall Recap + Preview for Upcoming Game vs DIII USF Bulls (Friday, January 20th @9:45 pm)

Written by Marinna Stopa

There is hope for better days ahead for the Florida Gators Division III hockey team.

Starting off the season with four straight wins, the future was looking bright for a team that already surpassed its previous seasons’ total wins.

In these first four matches, the team outscored Embry-Riddle, USF and Tennessee by a margin of 27-14.

The brick wall that was David Stenzel, who won two of these four games, posted an astounding 0.959 save percentage as he stopped 70 of the 73 shots he faced in these two contests.

Unfortunately, for him and for his team, the netminder was injured in early October during practice, sidelining him for a good while. Though the timeline has been hazy, the team is hoping to have the netminder back on the bench by early February

This occurred just days before the two games against the powerhouse that is the University of Tampa (DIII) club team, who had been, and still are, undefeated.

After two dominant performances by the Spartans, the Gators couldn’t regroup and regain the edge they had sharpened to start.

To follow were a pair of games against the Florida Institute of Technology and one against Florida Southern, where the Gators were collectively outscored 28-10.

But that was last year.

It’s a new year (literally).

You know what they say – new year, new you.

Stenzel recovers from his injury and is expected to be back on the bench in early February. With over two months passing between the Gators most recent 10-4 loss to FIT and their next game at home against USF this Friday, January 20th, the team will be looking to regroup and return to their early-season form.

With junior assistant captain Owen Barno and freshman Dylan Morton tied for the team lead with 8 points on the season, and freshman Athan Bonavita and junior Xavier Morris not too far behind, the Gators are hoping to revitalize their offense, which averaged nearly seven goals a game in their first four wins, but have only averaged just over two during their five-game losing streak.

The Gators are still sitting in a good spot – third of eight in D3 standings– despite their skid. In the College Hockey South (CHS) and American Division of the CHF, they sit at 17th and 27th respectively.

The penalty kill has been a huge sore spot so far for the team, with around ⅓ shots of opponents’ power-play shots reaching the back of the net. With a 63% success rate, the Gators kill would be dead last when compared to NHL penalty-killing percentages.

Similarly, in situations where the Gators have the man advantage, the team has posted a measly 16% success rate.

On a somewhat better note, when short-handed, the Gators have been scored three goals in only nine games. This means that when they’re down a man, they have had a 12.5% chance of scoring a goal despite their handicap. In comparison, they have only allowed two shorthanded goals.  

What all of this means is that there is certainly room for improvement in all facets.

The rest of the season (the next five games) are all rematches against previous opponents – USF, Florida Southern, and FIT –  giving the Gators the opportunity to show what they are truly made of.

UF DIII vs. USF DIII Preview

            The University of Florida Division III Gators are ready to get the year started off in the best way possible – a big, season-reviving win.

            Despite coming into Friday’s contest on a five-game losing streak, with the last game played being over two months ago against the Florida Institute of Technology, there is plenty to be excited about with this next game against the University of South Florida.

            Two UF players have active point streaks, including forward Owen Barno, who has six goals in his last three games.

            In the Gators’ two meetings against the Bulls this season, they’ve outscored their opponent by a 10-5 margin, with 13 different UF players getting onto the scoresheet.

            The Tampa-based Bulls Ice Hockey team is currently 24th in CHS and 6th amongst Division III clubs with a 2-5 record.

In contrast to UF, USF started its season with five straight losses, including three blowout losses to the University of Tennessee, University of Tampa and Florida Southern College. Although the team hasn’t played since before Halloween, they are on a two-game win streak, with an 8-2 win against FIT and a 5-4 win over Embry-Riddle.

A few of players to watch for the Bulls are:

  • #14 LW Carter Sullivan:
    • 12 points (7G, 5A) in 7 Games Played
    • Leads the team in penalty minutes (18)
    • Leads the team in power play assists (2)
    • One hat trick
  • #8 C Mark Olson:
    • 11 points (3G, 8A) in 7 Games Played
    • Leads the team in assists (8)
  • #23 C Colin Smargon:
    • 8 points (4G, 4A) in 7 Games Played
    • One hat trick
  • #18 RW  Logan Solorzano
    • 5 points (2G, 3A) in 4 Games Played

            The game will be played this Friday (1/20) at 9:45 PM.

            Come out to the Community First Igloo to support the Gators at home!

Edited by Makena Winch

BACK-2-BACK: Gators Repeat as Thrasher Cup Champions

            Written by Marinna Stopa

            After two tough and thrilling contests at the Savannah Hockey Classic, the University of Florida Gators are Thrasher Cup champions for the second year in a row.


From the first shift of Friday night’s game against the University of Georgia, it was apparent the Gators were not going to return to Gainesville without some hardware.

Although the scoresheet doesn’t show it, the first six minutes was all Florida. No matter what Georgia did, no matter how many times they dumped it down the ice to get fresh legs on the ice, the UF defensemen were able to immediately return the puck to the UGA end and put intense pressure on Georgia goalie Ryan Testino.

It took nearly eight minutes for Georgia’s first offensive stint to develop, but they capitalized on the opportunity and put it behind UF goalie Mason Burdick to take a one-goal lead on just their second shot of the game. 

This quickly put a damper on a rolling Gator team, who seemed to skate on their heels for the next couple of minutes in response and allowed Georgia to maintain momentum in the UF zone.

Following some heavy, and questionable, hits by the Icedogs, Georgia’s David Eberly laid a hit on Parker Mara, cross-checking him straight in the numbers, sending him into the boards and onto the ice.

After a tense ten or so seconds, Mara recovered, but the hit seemed to light a much-needed fire under the Gators.

Although it took seven minutes and a separate tripping call on Georgia, Vaclav Prospal, in his first game of the season, would finally get Florida on the board after a scramble in front of the net. On just his first shift back after the hit, Parker Mara, as well as Matthew Brkljacic, assisted the game-tying goal.

The second period opened up much faster.

With Connor Nicholson parked in front of the net, a pin-point pass from Nick McCann gave the captain an easy tap-in, giving the Gators their first lead of the night less than five minutes into the second.

Later, with less than seven to go in the period, two off-setting slashing calls on McCann and Georgia’s Lleyton Poole resulted in a four-on-four opportunity, clearing up more room for both teams to work with.

Just four seconds in, Luke Braun would get his first of the weekend off a pass by Quinn Shepard (who, like Prospal, was also making his Gator hockey debut), scoring a goal largely dependent on the pure perseverance by #9 to get it past the Georgia goalie.

An Icedog power play late in the second period resulted in a Georgia goal, after Lleyton Poole ripped a shot from the blue line, which, aided by traffic in front of the net, beat Burdick and got the Georgia team within one entering the last period.

The final frame put a spotlight on the players’ fatigue, evident by messy passes, hits fueled by frustration, and a lack of shot attempts, where both sides combined for a mere eight shots on net.  

With twelve to go in the game, Matt Bigda would bring the game to a tie off an insane tip in front of the net, putting the puck in the Gator net. The original shot from Alexander Strauss was nowhere close to going in.

A boarding call on Prospal a minute later put a depleted Florida team in a less-than-favorable position.

 However, Brukljacic showed the Enmarket Arena crowd of nearly 4,500 fans that the Gators did not come to lose. With a goal made on a shorthanded breakaway followed by an iconic celebration, made the Savannah crowd mirror one at Amalie Arena.

The game ended in wild, stunning fashion, as Georgia NEARLY scored, but was ultimately one millisecond too late, making the Georgia fan-dominated crowd go crazy.

Ruled no goal immediately, it’s safe to say the Gators were relieved and the Icedogs enraged.

For whatever reason, the newly implemented video review cameras stationed at various points of the ice, used for similar situations for the home ECHL team, the Savannah Ghost Pirates, were not on.

All the referees and fans could go off was the image provided by the goal camera displayed on the Jumbotron. Another indicator was the lights behind the net, that turned red to signify the end of the period, rather than green to indicate a goal had been scored.

Whilst the stripes conversed, the two fired-up teams exchanged some words (and punches), eventually worsened by a reaffirmation of the original call on the ice by the refs, declaring Florida the rightful winners.


Coming off the massive win the night before, the Gators were ready to keep the ball (or puck) rolling against in-state rivals Florida State University.

Following tradition, the team brought out a two-year-old alligator named Aly from the North Georgia Wildlife Park for warmups and the anthem.

Additionally, freshman Jackson Choi skated around in a gator onesie overtop his uniform, complete with a long tail and osteoderms (the bony bumps along an Alligator’s back). He quickly stripped on the bench prior to the beginning of the game, giving himself enough time to return to the ice and take the opening faceoff.

Saturday’s game started on a much better note than the previous, with the first Gator goal coming a little over six minutes in, as a shot by Mara banked in off a stray FSU skate.

A minute later, Max Thellab would take a shot from a tough angle and beat FSU netminder Matthew Silliman’s glove side, giving Florida a commanding two goal lead heading into the second.

Play was contained entirely in the Florida State zone for the whole first period, with the Seminoles goalie being the only reason the Tallahassee-based team was within arm’s reach.

FSU came out of the locker room energized in the second period, evident in the team’s first goal, scored by James McGovern less than 30 seconds in.

However, the Gators just continued where they left off in the first period in response to the early FSU goal, with another goal by Braun, his second of the weekend and first of the game, following a very similar setup to the second UF goal.

With seven minutes to go, McCann, assisted by Nicholson and Brkljacic, once again put it past Silliman’s glove hand side. Off the very next faceoff, seemingly before FSU’s skaters knew play had resumed, Evan Edwards scored, finishing the period with a 5-1 score.

Braun would score his second of the game and the last Gator goal of the weekend thirteen minutes into the third, with assists from Quinn Shepard and Joshua Weinstein.

With his two-goal performance, Braun was named the player of the game and was honored with a gold MVP jersey.

            As the Florida state showoff was the first match of the night, the Gators had to wait for the winner of the following game against the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology to know if they were Thrasher Cup champs for the second year in a row.

            Coming into play Saturday night, GT had won its previous game against FSU, and Georgia had obviously been bested by the Florida Gators, both on Friday night. With a win against its own in-state rivals, the Yellow Jackets could have potentially taken home the cup themselves, depending on the tie-breaker variables, the first of which was goal differential.

            Despite the odds being heavily in Georgia’s favor, with the Icedogs having won all three of the previous matches against Tech throughout the season by a margin of 14-5, the Gators were subjected to a real nail-biter. The contest was close all the way to the final second, with UGA picking up a 2-1 win despite a last-minute goal and continued pressure from Georgia Tech all the way to the buzzer.

            With that, the University of Florida Gators completed their conquest to repeat as champions and emerged this weekend as the 2023 Savannah Classic Champions!

            Alongside being given the Thrasher Cup for the team to parade around the ice, Matthew Brkljacic was awarded the Greg Stathis trophy, given to the most valuable player throughout the tournament.

            With its two wins, the team has moved up to sixth overall in the CHS, one point behind the University of Alabama, with three games in hand.

            The next two games are against the undefeated University of Tampa in Tampa, at the Clearwater Ice Arena, about a 2.5-hour drive from UF.

            1/27/23: Friday at 8:30 PM, available to stream here.

            1/29/23: Sunday at 5:00 PM, available to stream here.

Edited by Makena Winch