By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
This past Wednesday, the Florida Gators held their first player evaluation. It gave the players an opportunity to show off their skills, gain chemistry with teammates, and shake off some rust from the long off-season.
Head coach Michel Marcinkiewz put the squad through many different tests and drills that emphasized a wide range of skills from stick handling, passing, and back checking. The drills helped showcase each players strengths and showed where they held up compared to the rest of the team. It also allowed for the players to get to know their teammates and build comradery on the ice.
Some of the older guys really showed their skill and experience. Two players that seemed to really impress were forwards Parker Mara and Phillip Vanderlaat. It appeared that they were on top of their game in every drill and were great role models to some of the under classmen.
Someone who also stood out during the entirety of the player evaluations was defenseman Andrew Kuczynski. He took a lot of initiative during every drill and was a great leader for the newcomers. When asked about it, Kuczynski stated, “I’m trying to, being the oldest guy out there … help the coach run the practice smoothly and help people who might not know what’s going on.”
To end off the player evaluations, Coach Marcinkiewz split up the team for a final scrimmage. The scrimmage was light jerseys against dark jerseys, where dark just beat the lights out by a score of two to one. Both Mara and Vanderlaat made strong impacts for their teams, scoring one goal each.
By the time the players started leaving the ice, there was instant energy and enthusiasm. “It was a ton of fun,” said sophomore defenseman Santiago Barrios, “We have a lot of good talent out here, a lot of good players out here, a lot of people that make a good first impression. We work hard, we play hard … they are a great group of guys.”
Returning players were also very impressed. “This is the biggest turnout we have ever had,” Kuczynski said, “[We have] a lot of enthusiastic guys, a lot of passionate guys…. Definitely a lot of talent, so we are going to have a really deep roster. We are going to have four lines going that we can count on. I am excited for the upcoming season.”
It is very apparent that this is going to be a Gator team that has a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and passion for the game. The team is hungry to start their season this Friday against Embry-Riddle and put up a lot of success on the ice.