By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
The Florida Gators D2 hockey team were victorious last night over Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. UF put up a stellar performance in all aspects of the game in Daytona Beach and came out with a 7-2 victory.
The first period saw the Eagles really laying on the body. They took a more physical approach to try and intimidate the Gators with their size and strength. However, that tactic failed in comparison to the skill that the Gators have on their roster. After his first goal was waived off, center Vinny Marino scored the first goal of the game off of a breakaway. Shortly after that, Marino scored again on a power play to bring the Gator lead to two. John Hunt then scored his first goal, and third point, of the game; elevating the lead to three.
The defense really shined in the first period, with the defenders putting their bodies on the line to block a plethora of shots. Freshman goaltender Tyler Uhr looked amazing as well. He looked very comfortable right away. Uhr successfully saved all eleven of ERAUs shots in the first period.
The Gators started out the second period strong by dominating on the penalty kill. After an Embry-Riddle goalie change, the Gators started to light the lamp once again. Freshman defenseman Matthew Brkljacic scored Florida’s fourth consecutive goal and his first as a Gator. The Gators ended off the period with two more goals; one coming from John Hunt, his second of the game, and the other from right winger Owen Barno.
The Embry-Riddle Eagles pushed back in the third period, however. Forwards Ryan Marks and Noah Austin contributed goals for the Eagles in the final period. However, it was not enough to catch up to the Gators as they ended the game in a 7-2 victory, with Parker Mara scoring their final goal.
Goaltender Tyler Uhr finished the night with 32 saves on 34 shots, recording a .941 save percentage. This feat is even more impressive when you look at the plethora of penalties that he had to help the team kill.
This victory gives the Gators a huge boost of confidence in the team and their chances of success this season. They will surely look to build on the positive momentum going into their home opener against the University of Tennessee on September 24th.
Although the three periods of the D2 hockey game concluded just after 10:00pm, it was not the only hockey left to be played for the Florida Gators. The D3 squads for both UF and ERAU faced off shortly after the first game concluded.
The teams had a lot of energy coming in; and just like their D2 team, the Eagles brought in a physical presence early on. However, the Gators again scored the first goal of the game; this one coming from senior right winger Christopher Philley. The Eagles, however, struck back quickly, with Tyler Staropli leveling out the score at one. By the end of the first, the game was tied at one and starting goaltender Sophie Felton stopped ten ERAU shots.
The second period is where the Gators really started to take off. Freshman forward Jacob Horwitz regained the lead for the Gators in the second period, bringing the score to 2-1. Soon thereafter, Horwitz scored his second of the game to bring the Gators to a two-goal lead. Sophie Felton and the Gator defense also stood strong and did not allow any Eagle goals in the period.
The third period was very hard fought and intense as ERAU was trying to close in on the two-goal lead. They were trying to boost up the physicality; as an Eagle player accidently ran into and injured Sophie Felton. The event was dreadful as she saved 23 out of 24 shots at that point and had to be helped off the ice. However, the Gators fought on and scored two more goals to finish off the game; one coming from defenseman Xavier Morris and the other coming from forward Zachary Scorer. The final score was 5-1 in favor of the Eagles; and although Felton could not play the rest of the game, she was still awarded with the win.
This game also gives the Gators a ton of confidence. Not only will the D3 team find a lot of success this season, but the D2 team can be reassured that there are plenty of capable players to call up if it is ever needed. The D3 squad’s next game will be on October 3rd, where they will play the University of Tampa Spartans at Advent Health Center Ice.