By Aileyahu Shanes
Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10
The Gators are finally playing in Florida again, this time against the University of Tampa in Clearwater tonight and on Sunday. Not only are the Spartans the number one team in the CHF Southeast region, but they are the number one team in the CHF nationally.
Tampa is currently on a 13-game win streak, coming in with a record of 19-1-1. The team from the SCHC dominates their opponents in convincing fashion. In their last game, for example, they took down Hofstra University in a 12-1 blowout.
This success could not come without some outstanding players. Leading the Spartans in points is defenseman Joseph Davis. The Tampa product has 34 points, 14 goals and 20 assists in just 21 games, currently leading the team in all scoring categories. Additionally, he was also named CHF Defenseman of the Month of December.
Two forwards to look out for are right winger William Cody and left winger Stephen Buck. Cody, originally from Pawling, New York, has 32 points in 20 games. He is coming off a three-point performance against Hofstra, putting up two goals and a helper. Buck hails from Springfield, New Jersey. He has 30 points in 20 games and is also coming off a three-point game against Hofstra, instead putting up three assists.
What is also impressive about the University of Tampa is their consistent goaltending. They use a hybrid goaltending strategy, which means that they equally take advantage of the talents of two goaltenders. One of these netminders is Joseph Bagi. Playing eight games, the Tampa native holds a 6-1-1 record, a 1.86 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. The other goaltender is Shea Grant. Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Grant holds a perfect 9-0-0 record, a 2.00 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
The Florida Gators are coming into this game with a lot of momentum. Although their record doesn’t match up to Tampa’s, they still hold a respectable 8-4-1 overall record and are coming off a successful Savannah tournament. They currently are ninth in the SECHC standings and rank eighth in the CHF Southeast region. Although eighth does not sound that impressive, it is important to keep in mind that the other seven teams ahead of them are all ranked in the top ten nationally. In fact, the Gators are ranked eleventh in the CHF nationally.
Looking at the team’s point leaders, it is no surprise that John Hunt is still on top. The senior is coming off an MVP performance in Savannah. He has 30 points, 16 goals and 14 assists in just 13 games. Coming in right after Hunt is Parker Mara. Mara also holds over a point per game. In just 11 games, the sophomore has 17 points. Just two points behind is Harrison Haber, who also had a great tournament. He currently has 15 points in 10 games.
The first game of the weekend will be played tonight at 10:00pm. Coincidentally, this will be the University of Florida’s second Gasparilla game of the academic year. After the Gator football team lost in the Gasparilla Bowl to UCF, the hockey club is looking to make up for that by beating Tampa in their Gasparilla game. The Gasparilla themed night will pay tribute to Tampa’s Gasparilla pirate festival. The Spartans will also debut their new Gasparilla themed uniforms, which they released on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. The game will be played at the Clearwater Ice Arena, but you can stream the game at BDEHockey.com.
Sunday’s game will also be played at the Clearwater Ice Arena. Additionally, the game will also be streamed at BDEHockey.com. Puck drop for the game will be at 6:00pm.