Written by Marinna Stopa
There is hope for better days ahead for the Florida Gators Division III hockey team.
Starting off the season with four straight wins, the future was looking bright for a team that already surpassed its previous seasons’ total wins.
In these first four matches, the team outscored Embry-Riddle, USF and Tennessee by a margin of 27-14.
The brick wall that was David Stenzel, who won two of these four games, posted an astounding 0.959 save percentage as he stopped 70 of the 73 shots he faced in these two contests.
Unfortunately, for him and for his team, the netminder was injured in early October during practice, sidelining him for a good while. Though the timeline has been hazy, the team is hoping to have the netminder back on the bench by early February
This occurred just days before the two games against the powerhouse that is the University of Tampa (DIII) club team, who had been, and still are, undefeated.
After two dominant performances by the Spartans, the Gators couldn’t regroup and regain the edge they had sharpened to start.
To follow were a pair of games against the Florida Institute of Technology and one against Florida Southern, where the Gators were collectively outscored 28-10.
But that was last year.
It’s a new year (literally).
You know what they say – new year, new you.
Stenzel recovers from his injury and is expected to be back on the bench in early February. With over two months passing between the Gators most recent 10-4 loss to FIT and their next game at home against USF this Friday, January 20th, the team will be looking to regroup and return to their early-season form.
With junior assistant captain Owen Barno and freshman Dylan Morton tied for the team lead with 8 points on the season, and freshman Athan Bonavita and junior Xavier Morris not too far behind, the Gators are hoping to revitalize their offense, which averaged nearly seven goals a game in their first four wins, but have only averaged just over two during their five-game losing streak.
The Gators are still sitting in a good spot – third of eight in D3 standings– despite their skid. In the College Hockey South (CHS) and American Division of the CHF, they sit at 17th and 27th respectively.
The penalty kill has been a huge sore spot so far for the team, with around ⅓ shots of opponents’ power-play shots reaching the back of the net. With a 63% success rate, the Gators kill would be dead last when compared to NHL penalty-killing percentages.
Similarly, in situations where the Gators have the man advantage, the team has posted a measly 16% success rate.
On a somewhat better note, when short-handed, the Gators have been scored three goals in only nine games. This means that when they’re down a man, they have had a 12.5% chance of scoring a goal despite their handicap. In comparison, they have only allowed two shorthanded goals.
What all of this means is that there is certainly room for improvement in all facets.
The rest of the season (the next five games) are all rematches against previous opponents – USF, Florida Southern, and FIT – giving the Gators the opportunity to show what they are truly made of.
UF DIII vs. USF DIII Preview
The University of Florida Division III Gators are ready to get the year started off in the best way possible – a big, season-reviving win.
Despite coming into Friday’s contest on a five-game losing streak, with the last game played being over two months ago against the Florida Institute of Technology, there is plenty to be excited about with this next game against the University of South Florida.
Two UF players have active point streaks, including forward Owen Barno, who has six goals in his last three games.
In the Gators’ two meetings against the Bulls this season, they’ve outscored their opponent by a 10-5 margin, with 13 different UF players getting onto the scoresheet.
The Tampa-based Bulls Ice Hockey team is currently 24th in CHS and 6th amongst Division III clubs with a 2-5 record.
In contrast to UF, USF started its season with five straight losses, including three blowout losses to the University of Tennessee, University of Tampa and Florida Southern College. Although the team hasn’t played since before Halloween, they are on a two-game win streak, with an 8-2 win against FIT and a 5-4 win over Embry-Riddle.
A few of players to watch for the Bulls are:
- #14 LW Carter Sullivan:
- 12 points (7G, 5A) in 7 Games Played
- Leads the team in penalty minutes (18)
- Leads the team in power play assists (2)
- One hat trick
- #8 C Mark Olson:
- 11 points (3G, 8A) in 7 Games Played
- Leads the team in assists (8)
- #23 C Colin Smargon:
- 8 points (4G, 4A) in 7 Games Played
- One hat trick
- #18 RW Logan Solorzano
- 5 points (2G, 3A) in 4 Games Played
The game will be played this Friday (1/20) at 9:45 PM.
Come out to the Community First Igloo to support the Gators at home!
Edited by Makena Winch