By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
The Gators D3 squad played their second game of the season yesterday; again, playing their foes from Daytona Beach, the Embry-Riddle Eagles. UF dominated in their last performance, coming out with a 5-1 victory, but this early afternoon matchup against ERAU proved to be a bit more challenging.
The Gators started out strong in the first period. The scoring with a goal by Daytona product CJ Newlon. The tally was his first goal and point of the season. But ERAU stayed toe and toe with the Gators, with Ian Betkis tying up the game at one shortly after. The period stayed tied for most of the first frame, but, with just over a minute left, Lewie Schaht ripped home his first goal of the season to bring back Florida’s lead. By the end of the period, Ben Acker, who originally backed up Tyler Uhr on the D2 team, stopped ten of the eleven Eagle shots.
The second period was a weaker one for the Gators. UF committed an abundance of penalties that lead to a variety of opportunities for Embry-Riddle. They took advantage early on with a quick power play goal by Christopher Sirrell. At this point, coach Michael Kelly decided to remove Acker from the game and place in Sophie Felton, who finished off Friday nights D2 game against UCF. Felton seemed to have some trouble getting into the flow of the game early on; with Sirrell recording his second goal of the game shortly after the goaltending swap. This gave the Eagles their first lead of the game. However, freshman Isaac Blank, who played against the UCF Knights just the night prior, tied up the game at three shortly after. A few plays after that, Blank came up big again and regained UF’s lead with his second goal of the game. But ERAU ended off the period hot. Jonathan Gardner tied up the game shortly after Blank’s second tally and Sirell finished off his hat trick a few minutes before the middle frame ended.
The Gators faced a test entering the final period, but they showed to pass in flying colors. Blank recorded the first goal of the period and finished off his hat trick. Joe Jannelli quickly regained the Eagles’ lead, however, with the score now reading 6-5. The Gators had to fight hard from this point, but the senior from Miami, Jeffery Fernandez, tipped the puck into the back of the net one-handed to tie up the game at six. The rest of the period was a nail-biter. Embry-Riddle fought hard to regain the lead and end the game in regulation; but Sophie Felton stole the show. Chance after chance came for ERAU but Felton, although only 5’3’’, stood extremely tall in her crease. Without her, the game would never have gone into overtime.
After a short intermission, the extra frame started off with instant energy from both teams. But after a giveaway from Embry-Riddle, Isaac Blank converted on a breakaway opportunity and won the game for the Gators on his fourth goal of the game.
The D3 squad is now 2-0. They are continuously showing their promise and many of their players are on the cusp of making the D2 team. Just like the upper division squad, the D3 Gators will be on break for a few weeks. Their next game will be a Halloween showdown against the Florida Tech Panthers.