By: Marinna Stopa
Friday night’s matchup between the Gators and the Crimson Tide will certainly be one you don’t want to miss.
Finishing with a 13-6-1 record, the University of Florida earned the #6 slot in the College Hockey South playoffs.
They will face the University of Alabama, who own the #3 seed with their 16-6-1 record.
Accounting for the fact that Alabama has played three more games than UF, the two teams have equal records and pretty similar team feats.
Both teams average five goals a game, around two goals more than their opponent on average.
In terms of power play goals, the Gators have 26 – more than double as many as the Crimson Tide with 12.
So while Florida has proven to have a more lethal power play, Alabama will certainly give the team some competition.
Both teams have some of the best penalty killing units in the league. Alabama has allowed the second-least amount with 8 and Florida isn’t too far behind in fourth place having allowed 12.
With that, Alabama is also tied for second in the league with the most short handed goals with 13. Florida sits in eleventh place with eight.
The Gators look to maintain its offensive dominance rolling into this weekend, having scored ten goals in its last three games.
Four of these came from forward Maxim Thellab (#47), who starts off the top three players to watch for Florida this weekend.
One could say #47 is on fire offensively right now, but to be honest, he hasn’t cooled down since his first goal in September against USF.
In his last ten games played, he’s put ten goals on the board and assisted with another, for a total of 11 points.
The freshman is averaging over a point per game this season, having 15 goals, 5 assists for 20 points in 19 games played.
Of Jackson Choi’s six assists this season, half of them have been to Thellab, including one of his two goals against FSU a couple of weeks ago.
The left winger has 14 goals and 6 assists for a total of 20 points in 20 games played. This means the Maryland native is also playing at a point per game rate going into the game against Alabama.
In his last ten, the freshman has six goals and five assists, for eleven total points. Against FSU, he had the first goal of the game and an assist to Thellab, which ended up being the game winning pass.
With the most assists and points on the team, Captain Connor Nicholson has led his team to victory many times this season.
In fact, in the center’s twenty appearances this season, he’s had five games with two or more points and has only been withheld from the score sheet only four times, one of which was the shutout against Tampa.
With seven goals and a whopping 22 assists for a total of 29 points, this puts the senior in the top 5% of the league in scoring.
On the other bench, Alabama has some offensive weapons of their own to look out.
Max Savaloja has 24 goals and 16 assists for a total of 40 points in twenty-one games played, a rate of about two points a game.
The center is currently riding a three game point streak, with 6 goals and 2 assists against Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee.
While #10 is an offensive threat, he also leads his team in penalty minutes, with 50. This is twice as much as the player in second place.
Right behind him in the scoring race, Matthew Dumond has 37 points in 21 appearances, with 13 goals and 24 assists.
The forward hasn’t been absent from the scoresheet since mid-November, accumulating 17 points in the seven games played in the three months since.
Alabamas (probable) starting goalie is Luc Haggit.
In his 15 games played, he has posted a .916 save percentage, allowing an average of two goals behind him.
He is coming off a 21-save shutout, his fourth of the year, against Tennessee two weeks ago.
You can watch this game in real life at the Ice Sports Center in Huntsville, AL, where tickets are $10 a day and can be purchased at the arena or here.
You can also watch a live stream of the game here.