By Marinna Stopa
Sunday’s matinee game saw nine different Gator players put points on the board in their dominant showing against UCF, with Jacob Horwitz and Luke Braun both having three point afternoon outings.
The Knights group, which was playing their last of three games in 48-hours, were no match for a well-rested Florida Gators team still hot after their tough series split with FAU last weekend. Their first two games of the weekend were a split against the ERAU Eagles. The second, a 4-2 loss, came a mere 19-hours before they were set to face off against UF.
The first period got off to a quick start, with Evan Edwards seventh goal of the season coming just a minute after the opening faceoff. An incredible effort by Zach Zelmanski to get a pass to the front of the net while on his stomach set up an easy deflection over the left shoulder of UCF goalie Jackson Barton.
Less than 90 seconds later, Jacob Horwitz scored his first of the game and third of the season, a shot from the far left point that cleanly beat the goalie with no traffic in front of the net. At this point of the game, the Gators had scored their first two goals on their first two shots, while the Knights had barely touched the other side of the ice.
Play would even out a little, with the next goal coming a long five-minutes later, giving Josh Shraiberg his first point of the game and first goal of the season. Luke Braun did a full revolution around the net before dishing it to the freshman, who tapped it in to make the score 3-0 with just over 11 minutes to go in the first.
Braun then decided he wanted a goal of his own two and a half minutes later. Coasting down the middle of the ice, he put away a heads-up pass from Joshua Weinstein from behind the net. It was his sixth goal of the year.
At this point, interim Head Coach Shane O’Donnell called an early timeout in hopes of stopping the bleeding, with his team now down four with eight minutes left to go in the first. This seemed to work, with no more UF goals being tallied for the rest of the period and both a strong penalty kill and power play keeping the Gators at bay.
After a strong power play by the Knights following a slashing call on Evan Edwards, goalie Nathan Shields came up with a massive breakaway save on Anthony Sciorinto, keeping his shutout campaign against his old team intact.
The second period was much more relaxed than the previous, with a couple of penalties being called against both teams, with nothing to show for it on either side. Traffic in front of the net and a quick pass from forward Nathaniel Zhivotovsky allowed Max Weinstock to spin around and deceive Shields, finally getting UCF on the board nearly halfway into the game.
A couple more penalties were assessed before the next goal, including one from UCF freshman Nicholas Sheehan in his second shift of his collegiate career – an unsportsmanlike conduct after he snowed Shield with ten minutes to go in the second. Pro Tip: Don’t snow the goalie.
With twenty seconds left in the middle frame, a shot from the point from Horwitz hit a group in front of the net, going off Connor Nicholson and eventually Nick McCann to beat the goalie and make it 5-1 at the end of the period.
Forwards Thomas Zamba and Max Weinstock were everywhere on the ice for the Knights, consistently giving the depleted team some signs of life.
The final frame began with a roughing call on Zelmanski, his 14th penalty of the season.
Seven minutes in, Horwitz got his second of the game, a rising shot from the short side point that cleanly beat the goalie, with the assist going to freshman Jackson Choi.
Four more penalties would come before the next and final goal of the game, including another to Zelmanski and a delay of game against Tom Walker, who was wearing the wrong jersey with a player that wasn’t on the lineup.
To finish off the game, Zelmanski got his second goal of the season and second point of the game off a cross-ice pass from Evan Edwards. Using his hockey IQ to his advantage, he waited till the goalie committed to his position, then shoveled it behind him and into the net to seal off the game.
The final score would be a 7-1 Gators win in which the result never seemed to be in doubt.
Your Florida Gators will take a couple weeks off for Thanksgiving break, before their last two games of the year, a weekend series against Miami at home on December 3rd at 4:15 PM and December 4th at 12:45 PM.
Edited by Makena Winch