By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
After coming up short on Sunday against the University of Tennessee, the Gators were looking to build on their third period boost from the matchup to take down the UCF Knights. On the flip side, the SCHC squad was looking to build on their first win of the season on Saturday against USF.
There was instant action right off the bat. Early into the first period, Andrew Kuczynski started out the scoring with his second goal of the season. John Hunt got yet another point on that play along with Matthew Brkljacic getting his first assist of the season. Shortly after that, another defenseman got his second goal of the season for the Gators, Brkljacic. UF was now up 2-0 on the Knights, with an assist coming from Aidan Moran. Later in the period, the Gators scored another quick two goals to bring their lead to four. Goals came from Hunt, his eighth goal of the season and second point of the game, and Aidan Muruve, his first goal of the season.
The second period did not see as much scoring as the first, but it was entertaining none the less. Both teams put on a lot of pressure, and the Knights were a lot more involved in the game. That sustained pressure from UCF was enough for them to get their first goal of the game. Team captain Donovan McClellan, assisted by Hunter Chard and Danny Rojano, brought the Gator lead down to three. However, the Gators struck back quickly, with Phillip Vanderlaat recording his second goal of the season off a Harrison Haber helper. The period was very physical. Countless big hits, penalties and scraps on the ice were seen during the frame. It may have interrupted the flow of the game, but the UCF fans were very into it, specifically giving Vanderlaat a particularly hard time.
The final frame had a lot more goal scoring. Early into the period, UCF started the scoring with freshman Brendan Rosenfeld bringing the Gators lead back to three, with Rojano getting his second assist of the game and defenseman Thomas Batchelor getting his first. Florida got right back in it, however, as Brkljacic buried in his second goal of the game to make it a 6-2 lead. The offensive production he has been putting up this season has caused his teammates to start referring to him as Bobby Orr. Later, Owen Barno put his name on the score sheet to bring the Gators’ lead to five. At that point, coach Marcinkiewz decided to take out starting goaltender David Stenzel and place in Sophie Felton for the rest of the game. Stenzel, who was called up from the D3 team, played an excellent game so far; so, coach Mike wanted to give him a bit of a rest and allow for Felton to get a taste of D2 hockey as well. Felton made several great saves, but unfortunately let one slide past the five-whole to give UCF their third goal of the night. The goal was Hunter Chard’s first of the game and second point.
That UCF goal turned out to be the last of the game, with the Gators coming out with a 7-3 victory in the first of the back-to-back against the Knights. The second game will be played tonight at 9:00pm again at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando. Tickets are ten dollars each and there will be another live stream at DSPNLive.com, with access to the live stream being ten dollars.