By Makena Winch
186 days would pass before the Gators Ice Hockey team would suit up for another puck drop. An up and down 2021-2022 season saw the Gators rack up only 9 wins in their 21 game season, yet this same team found ways to win the few season-defining games that often make or break a year. Champions of the Savannah Hockey Classic, the Gators defeated eventual CHF Southeast champion Georgia Bulldogs to take home the trophy for the first time in 7 years. Then, in the CHF Southeast semi-finals, they were just over 10 minutes away from reaching their regional playoff finals last year, too, before falling just short in the 3rd period. Combined with wins over two of the top six nationally ranked CHF clubs during the regular season no less, the club’s sub -.500 record forces a second glance.
In comparison, The Gators Division III Club’s season hardly sported a record at all last year. In their inaugural season, the Division III Gators Ice Hockey Team played a sparse ten-game schedule against some five different opponents; nearly doubling their total games for the 2022-2023 season, the Division 3 team came into the 2022-2023 season eager to solidify their own standing.
The night of September 9th saw both Gators teams back in action, kicking off their seasons for the second consecutive year with away games in Daytona versus the Embry-Riddle Eagles own DII and DIII teams. Roster turnovers, changes in coaching for both teams, and a new practice rink some 180 miles north of the former, the forecasts for the seasons to come were about as cloudy as it gets. Going into November, both Gators hockey teams have racked up winning records, albeit in very different fashions. So what has happened so far? Who have been the leaders, and who have been the surprises? What distinguishes the current teams from their previous year counterparts? And, most importantly, where do these teams go next as we approach the mid-season mark?
Ironically, we will be looking to you, our fans and fellow students, to help continue the Gator hockey news tradition. Just as rosters turnover, so do writers. With a schedule of games dispersed throughout the entirety of geographical Florida and beyond, our news stories proved a great and convenient source of keeping the Gator hockey fan base up-to-date and connected with our skaters. If you would be interested in an internship with the club as our teams’ sports journalist, please reach out to our club secretary Makena Winch at email@example.com with your résumé for more information.
We hope to give not only an in-depth debriefing of all that has passed so far some time in the next one to two weeks, but also continue to provide a continual flow of post-game articles, player spotlights, and more soon after. Until then, we hope some of our 2022-2023 season photos below will help to show club hockey is still very much still alive and thriving here at the University of Florida, and as always, go gators!
Photo credits to Ally Eames for all DIII photos