By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
The Gators are expected to truly compete this season. This is for the fact that the team is bringing in young and talented recruits. However, the Gators have returning talent that bring both experience and skill to the team. These guys are the backbone of the team, who will serve as leaders and mentors for the skaters who are just starting out. Here are some notable returnees to keep an eye on for the University of Florida’s DII club.
The 6’7” 230-pound defenseman is one of the biggest guys to suit up for the Gators this season. The graduate student is entering his sixth season as a Florida Gator and is a likely pick to become the team’s captain. Not only is his physical presence a big strength of his on the ice, but his leadership is crucial for the team’s success. “I would put my leadership up their [as a big strength],” Kuczynski explained, “because I’ve been playing UF hockey for 5 years now; and I’m doing grad school now so I’m kind of old, my age is getting up there… you know, show everyone the ropes and really lead by example.” The Gator’s top player has 56 points already throughout his UF career; and is looking to add to his total this season and lead the team to the SECHC Tournament.
The Orlando native is entering his second season with the club. In his last season he came in third in the team for both points (22) and goals (10). The 21-year-old center also had over a point per game in the 2019-20 season, recording his 22 points in only 17 games.
The Junior from Sarasota is also entering his second season with the squad. In 2019-20, he recorded 19 points to put him fourth in the team in that category. One quality that stands out about the center is his playmaking. “Coming into this season we have a lot of talent in all areas in the game,” he stated, “and I will be most helpful with my playmaking abilities. I think just by using my hockey sense and working with all the guys on the team will help make the team as successful as possible.” Connor Nicholson is also the team president of the University of Florida Hockey Club, which shows his dedication for the team and his willingness to work hard for it both on and off the ice.
Broski is coming off his best season yet. In the 2019-20 season, the defenseman recorded eight points in 21 games, which is double the amount he recorded in the 2018-19 season. The senior from Berkeley, Michigan is entering his third season on the team. He will be a key veteran presence; and will be another guy who can lead by example.
The junior from Boca Raton is also a guy to keep an eye on. Entering his second season, Haber recorded just under a point per game in his 2019-20 campaign. Haber is a guy with a lot of passion for the game. “I would say the biggest thing I can contribute is the energy.” explained the centerman. What also is special about Haber is the example he leads off the ice. He explained in an interview that he worked out with a bunch of the guys from the team in his backyard. “If people don’t really want to be there [practice]… I’m gonna make sure that we are going, and going at 100%.” A guy from the NHL you can compare him to is Florida Panthers forward Patric Hornqvist; a guy who brings a ton of energy to the ice and holds his teammates accountable during practice.
The returning Gators are a key piece to the team. With the combination of them and the new talent coming in, it will be exciting to watch this squad starting September 10th.