By: Becca Friedman
Period 1 recap:
Coming in as the #1 ranked team in the D2 South Division standings, the Florida Gators knew that they had their reputation to uphold. The Gators were coming off of a 5-game winning streak but then went on an almost 2-week break from the ice. For their first game back, the Gators faced the South Carolina Gamecocks in an SEC showdown.
It was feared that momentum could have been lost during this break, but the team came out hot. Right off the bat, the Gators applied immediate offensive pressure to Goalie Zach Hayes (#35) with Lampinen (#81) leading the rush for the Gators. There were two power plays within the first 2 minutes of the first period, one for each team. The Gators capitalized on their man advantage, scoring at 17:36, one minute into the PP. Keegan Lampinen came into the game as the point leader for the Gators and defended that title with the first goal of the game.
The Gamecocks, however, struggled to find their offensive footing early on in the period. They could not generate a goal during their first power play the way the Gators did. They did not get one shot on goal during their 2-minute man advantage. The superstar South Carolina player, John Riggins (#25), made his presence known early on with some solid scoring chances against Shield, but he struggled to get the puck in the back of the net.
As the period continued, the Gators started to lose their momentum, not applying as much offensive pressure. Right winger Michael Katz (#2) had a prime scoring opportunity in front of the net, but his deflection went high. Katz then redeemed himself with a top shelf goal with an assist from Lampinen 5 minutes left in the 1st.
With less than 2 minutes left in the period, the Gamecock’s Marco Pineda (#9) finally snuck one past Shield. Shield blocked the team’s first few attempts, but they continued to hammer the puck at the goal until they finally got one in.
Overall, the Gators came out strong with 2 crucial goals early on, but the Gamecocks strengthened as the period progressed with Riggins leading them offensively.
Period 2 Recap:
Coming off of their late goal in the 1st and starting with a man advantage in the 2nd, the Gamecocks bounced back early in the second period. In the opening minute of the period, two Gators were in the penalty box, giving the Gamecocks a 2 man advantage. Although they did not score here, they got solid shots on goal, applying immediate pressure on Shield.
5 minutes into the period, South Carolina finally went to the box leaving the Gators with a powerplay that they could not capitalize on or use to generate real scoring chances. Instead, the Gamecocks had three strong shorthanded opportunities, leaving the Gators with little time to set up in their own zone.
Shield was the Gators ultimate saving grace, not letting any of their pucks get to the back of the net for the first half of the period. With less than 10 minutes left in the 2nd, Tommy Marvin (#6) on the Gamecocks got one past Shield. The Gamecocks got the goal they needed to even up the score, 2-2, and they continued to press offensively.
The Gators made it 3-2 with 5 minutes left in the 2nd period, getting that momentum change they so desperately needed. Lampinen racked up his second point of the game with an assist to Maddox Olenick (#83).
The Gators drew a penalty with 45 seconds left of the period, allowing them to start with the man advantage in the third.
Period 3 recap:
To start off the third period, the Gators came out strong with a powerplay goal in the opening minute. They had great offensive control and movement which allowed Katz to get the puck to the back of an open net, making it 4-2 for the Gators. Florida increased their lead by two, taking momentum back from the Gamecocks. They continued to set up chances, increase their physicality, and maintain better control in the neutral zone.
Things took a turn for the worse, when South Carolina’s Brendan Flaherty (#3) scored with 12:20 left in the period to make the score 4-3. Within a minute of Flaherty’s goal, Lokken (#19) got the Gamecocks their equalizing goal. The entire momentum shifted into the hands of South Carolina, and they took complete control of the puck in their offensive zone. The home ice advantage was definitely felt during this period, with the fans feeding off of the Gamecocks’ energy. Making it three goals in three minutes, Connor Burman (#12) scored to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the game. In almost a blink of an eye, the Gators now found themselves trailing 5-4, after being up by 2 goals three minutes prior.
The remainder of the period was filled with stoppages, penalties, and two ejections. The stoppages after South Carolina’s goal scoring spree allowed the Gators to catch their breath. Jackson Choi (#4) scored against Hayes with 4:28 left, while the Gators were up two players on a 5v3. To end the period, and the game, Gamecock Jake Puskar (#8) sneaked in a goal that left everyone, including Shield, shocked.
The third period was dominated by South Carolina’s offense, coming back and scoring 4 goals in one period. The Gamecocks have snapped the Gator’s five-game win streak in a 6-5 victory on their home ice. This devastating loss for the Gators needs to motivate them instead of discourage them, for they face the Gamecocks once again this Sunday October, 15th.