By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
The Gators came into this Sunday’s game looking to sweep the University of Tennessee in their weekend series after a thriller on Friday. However, this game turned out to be a bit more of a test for the squad.
The Gators faced an up-hill battle right off the bat. With just under two minutes into the first period, sophomore Nick Carline put the Ice Vols on the score sheet with his third goal of the weekend. Shortly after, however, Phillip Vanderlaat tied the game at one with his first goal of the season. From that point on, Tennessee dominated the rest of the period. Tennessee would score four more goals before the Gators would get their next tally. Goals from Shane Kokoska, John Clarke, Jack Ingeneri and Carlines second of the game made it a 5-1 Volunteer lead. Tyler Uhr was swapped in for Ben Acker after Tennessee’s third goal was scored. Florida was able to score two more goals by the end of the period, however, with Andrew Kuczynski recording his first goal of the season and John Hunt burying in his sixth. Although, by the end of the first, the Gators were down by two, Florida put on a lot of pressure and led 20-9 in shots.
The second period saw a more defensive performance from both teams. The only goal of the middle frame came in the second minute of play with freshman Adam Carter getting his first goal of the weekend and extending Tennessee’s lead to three. The rest of the period was very physical. Both teams really laid on the body and the crowed was extremely entertained by the physicality. Both goalies were locked in during the second period. Ice Vols goaltender Brandon Shaw particularly impressed. He had great positioning throughout the entire game and by the end of the period saved 35 out of 38 shots.
But as we have seen from Friday’s matchup, never count the Gators out. Florida completely pulled their offense together in the last period. The scoring started with Hunt getting his second goal of the game and Vinny Marino recording his third assist of the game on the play. Harrison Haber then recorded his first goal of the season just three minutes later. Then, just about a minute after that, Parker Mara tied up the game at six with his second goal of the season.
There was no more scoring after that for either team, so the game had to be decided in three-on-three overtime. The Gators had a lot of momentum coming into the extra frame. Their offense was finally clicking and Tyler Uhr was having a bounce-back game. However, with only 23 seconds into overtime, Tennessee captain Drew King ripped home a sniper on a breakaway to give the Ice Vols their first win of the season.
The loss was disappointing for the players, especially with how hard they worked in the third period, but they played a solid game overall and still earned a point due to extending the game passed regulation. Overall, it was an exciting and successful weekend for the Gators.
Make sure to keep sticking around for more Florida Gators ice hockey action. The University of Florida is heading to Orlando on October 1st and 2nd for a back-to-back matchup against the University of Central Florida. The in-state matchup against the Knights will surely be an exciting one to watch, so make sure to stay tuned and Go Gators!