Gators Hockey: Season Results (So Far)

*This article details the Men’s Gator Ice Hockey Club Division II Team and their results from the Fall 2022 semester. A similar article dedicated to the club’s Division III Team will be coming out soon

By: Marinna Stopa

The Florida Gators hockey team has all but proven they are nothing like their last season shadow so far. Sitting at 16th in the CHF National Division, it’s safe to say the 2022-23 season is off to a fantastic, promising start.

Thirteen games in, the Florida Gators have a 9-2-2 record, good for 8th in the College Hockey South (CHS) division. In comparison, at this point of the season last year, their record was almost the complete opposite, a measly 4-8-1.

The season has been competitive and intense from the start, opening with an away game at Embry-Riddle in early September.

Despite strong starts by the team, made possible by incredible individual efforts — most notably of freshman Nicholas Ho, Jackson Choi, and senior Parker Mara, who all scored the opening goal in the season’s first three games — the Gators struggled to escape relative mediocrity.

In their first six games, the team consistently alternated between wins and losses, finishing the first half of the season 3-1-2.

Of the four losses so far, three came in these first six games. These four losses include: two OT losses against ERAU and FAU, a hard fought 6-5 loss to USF, and a 6-2 loss away at Tennessee.

However, the Gators have yet to lose two in a row.

Both of the aforementioned OT losses were avenged by 4-1 and 5-4 wins against ERAU and FAU respectively. Following the loss to USF, the Gators proceeded to blow the Bulls out of the water with a dominating 10-2 performance. After the loss to Tennessee, UF bounced right back with a 6-3 home win against Lynn, starting a three-game win streak.

That streak would end with an OT loss to FAU, but the team got right back on track once more with a 5-4 OT victory of their own against Florida Atlantic the next day, which has since sparked a four-game win streak. They enter the Savannah Invitational this weekend riding this four-game win streak, which they hope to extend, and then some.

The team has outscored its opponents 82 to 45, placing them at seventh in the division in goal differential. The large margin has been aided by three blowout performances, in which the team scored ten or more goals in one game –including the previously mentioned 10-2 thrashing of USF, as well as back-to-back victories over Miami, which ended as 14-6 and 11-2 decisions.

Almost half of the team has reached the double-digit point threshold already, with Captain Connor Nicholson leading the team at 22 points.

The power play is sitting at a 28.8% success rate, with Gators scoring 17 goals with 59 opportunities so far. Relative to the NHL, the Gator’s power-play conversion rate would be good for second-best in the league, bested by only the Edmonton Oilers (29%).

On the flip side, they have given up 6 shorthanded goals, making for a 10% rate.

On the penalty kill, the team has successfully killed off penalties 82.8% of the time so far, giving up only 10 goals against 58 penalties taken. If this was the NHL, that would be good enough for seventh in the league.

Though the Gators have much to hold their head high about as the team travels to Savannah, it will take everything they have to defend their title as the Thrasher Cup Champions.

Despite struggles last season, the previous Gator team was able to pick up two upset wins at the tournament to secure the title. This time around, expectations are much higher: it’s fair to say anything less than repeating as Thrasher Cup Champions would be considered a let-down. They open the tournament Friday at 8:30 PM at Enmarket Arena with a game against the Georgia Bulldogs, who have won all of their last 10 games, last losing a contest on October 2nd, 2022.

Edited by Makena Winch


Gators Put Up 25 Goals in Pair of Victories Against Hurricanes

By: Marinna Stopa

This weekend had everything a Gator hockey  fan could ask for.

In their two games against Miami, the University of Florida combined for 25 goals , eleven players with multi-point games, four hat tricks, two fights (and ejections), and one DIY jersey – really gets me into the Christmas spirit.

From the opening faceoff Saturday afternoon, it was clear the Gators came to play. Goalie Mason Burdick had a front row seat to an absolutely dominating performance, where his team kept most of the play in the Miami zone.

It took a mere four minutes for the first goal of the weekend to find the back of the net, but it was a sick cross ice pass from Martin Raynov to Josh Weinstein that made it happen. From then on, the goals just kept coming.

Two and a half minutes later, a pass from Max Thellab allowed a speedy Jackson Choi to crash the net and slide the puck underneath the pads of Miami goalie Ethan Gany.

Thirty seconds later, a snapshot gave Tom Walker his first goal of what would turn out to be a hat trick performance.

One downside of Saturday’s game was the rare mistakes the Gators made often resulted in a goal for the opposing team. This is exactly what happened when a defensive breakdown allowed Miami forward Guntram Weissenberger to walk right down the middle and go top shelf for his first goal of the game at the halfway point of the first period.

One more goal, Bohdi Duncan’s second of the season, would give the University of Florida a demanding 4-1 lead going into the middle frame.

John Coltellino would get the primary assist, his final point as a Florida Gator before he graduates at the end of the fall semester.

Three goals in less than fifty seconds to start the second period, coming from Choi, Máté Imre, and Thellab stunned the Canes and the crowd.

Down 7-1 only four minutes into the second, Weissenberger scored on a delayed penalty to Josh Shraiberg. This cooled down a sizzling Gator team, who didn’t score for another twelve minutes, the longest scoring drought of the weekend.

Weissenberger then completed his own hat trick on a breakaway chance, cutting the UF lead to four.

This didn’t stay long, as Choi deflected a shot from Luke Braun sixteen seconds later, completing his hat trick.

Attempting to put the entire team on his back, Weissenberger got his fourth and final goal of the game after Florida forward Walker whiffed on a shot on the power play, giving the winger yet another breakaway that ended in the back of the net.

However, Walker made up for it half a minute later with a power play goal of his own.

Thellab would then score again fifteen seconds after the penalty expired.

With 3.3 seconds left to go in the period, Walker tapped the puck into the net, seemingly surprising himself and everyone around him, completing his first hat trick.

From here on, all Gator goals were just gravy on the mashed potatoes.

To start the third, Thellab completed his own hat trick off a shot made from the right side point.

Raynov would score nine minutes later, followed by a heated fight between Zach Zelmanski and Christopher Kourgelis, which earned them both ejections from the game.

 Ryan Maziarka would get his first point of the season, a goal as a result of a great passing play with Weinstein and Imre.

Two Miami players would score the final goals of the game, making the final tally a consolatory 14-6.

Miami seemed to be more awake for the noon contest on Sunday, carrying over their physical presence from the day before.

This was no challenge for the Gators though, who also carried over their offensive dominance as well as an improved defensive presence.

Thellab would begin the scoring spree less than three minutes in, with a pass from Choi coming from across the goalie and right into his wheelhouse.

Between this first goal and the next, it seemed like Miami finally found their footing, spending a relatively long time in the Florida zone, but had nothing to show for it.

Alas, halfway through the first period, a pass from Connor Nicholson gave Braun an opportunity to make the score 2-0 and humble what little confidence their opposition had.

The first and only penalty of the period came a little while later, giving the Gators ample time in the scoring zone that proved fruitful less than half a minute after the penalty expired. It was then that Maziarka got his second point of the weekend, passing the puck to captain Nicholson, who dished it off to Evan Edwards for a wide open net.

Two more goals would be scored by the Gators by the end of the first frame, the fourth of the period being Raynov’s second of the season, coming from a pass from Shraiberg, who took it around the net to the defensemen parked right out front of the goalie. The fifth was Braun’s second of the period, a quick pass from Nicholson, his third assist of the period, to Jacob Horwitz and the center finishing it off.

The second period got off to a quick start with a skilled passing play between Shraiberg, Braun and Weinstein, who put it in the net for his first goal of the game.

Ten minutes later Miami gained some life off a goal from Declan Ross, a wrap-around pass coming from Jaret Fensterstock.

However, the Gators quickly recovered, with Edwards getting his second goal of the game and Braun getting his fourth point with the assist.

Less than five minutes later Weinstein would get his second of the period, an unassisted goal where he was able to beat the Miami defense and skate straight in front of the goalie and flick it in.

Shraiberg would then get his third point of the game with an unassisted goal of his own, this time on the power play with less than two minutes to go.

Weinstein completed his hat trick, the fourth Gator to do so of the weekend, a minute and forty seconds into the third period, once again flying past the defense and getting a shot off his backhand.

Four minutes later, Horwitz, in his handmade jersey (he supposedly left the other one in the dryer back in Gainesville), got the second power play goal of the game after a slashing call on Miami’s Fensterstock.

On the very next play, Zelmanski would get into his second fight of the weekend, this time following laying a hit to the head of a Miami player. Hurricane John Immello then speared him in retaliation, sparking the scuffle. Both players were ejected with fourteen minutes to go in the final period.

The final goal of the game would be scored short-handed, a breakaway for Miami’s Kourgelis, making the final tally 11-2.

These two games (turned offensive clinics), cap off the Gators last games of 2022. The team will go into the second half of the season with a 9-4-0 record, good enough for 8th place in the College Hockey South division.

The next time the Gators are in action will be at the highly anticipated Savannah Hockey Classic, where they look to win the Thrasher Cup for the second year in a row.

In Savannah, they will face off against the University of Georgia Bulldogs Friday, January 13th at 8:30 PM, against Florida State University Saturday, January 14 at 5:30 PM.

Tickets for Friday range from $12 to $60 and can be purchased HERE.

Tickets for Saturday range from $12 to $60 and can be purchased HERE.

Edited by Makena Winch

**NOTE: Certain statistics within this article contradict those provided by the College Hockey Federation’s documentation. As our stats come from a first-person scorekeeper present at the games, we’ve decided to include our statistics rather than those provided by CHF** 

Gators Run a Tired Knights Team out of their Castle


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

Gators Split Pair of Overtime Contests Against FAU

By Marinna Stopa

The Florida Gators were able to take home three of the four available points this weekend, forcing both games against the high-scoring Florida Atlantic Owls to go into overtime. Both games featured tons of man advantage play, solid goaltending, and great individual efforts from a variety of players on both sides of the ice.  

The story of game one was the volume and success of odd-man opportunities, with four of the nine total goals coming while on the power play.  

FAU got the game started a minute and 43 seconds into the first period, on a stretch pass from defenseman David Israel to forward Jacob Friedman, catching the Gator defense asleep on their feet.  

Five minutes later, freshman center Luke Braun was able to even up the game off a feed from freshman RW Josh Weinstein and sophomore defenseman Jacob Horwitz.  

The rest of the period saw the two teams exchange goals once more, the next coming from FAU’s Griffen Bono just two minutes after the last. The last goal of the period came with five minutes left in the period from UF’s freshman RW Evan Edwards for his sixth of the season, assisted by freshman LW Nick McCann and senior center Connor Nicholson. 

There was one shorthanded goal in the game, which came towards the end of the second period and was the only goal during the 20-minute frame. Nicholson’s calm breakout under pressure from the power-players sent Braun in on goal once more, 2 on 1, where he walked not only the defensive pair, but the goalie as well, tucking the puck away into an empty net to give the Gators their first lead of the weekend. 

All three goals in the third period came on the man advantage, with goals from FAU’s #68 Keith Goldberg and Friedman, and one from UF’s freshman defenseman Bohdi Duncan sandwiched between the two near the halfway mark. Braun took the original shot and was unable to get past Owl goalie Ciaran McNelis, but the freshman from London, Ontario was able to put it away for his second of the season.  

The Gators biggest obstacle the entire weekend was FAU’s 6 ‘3, 190 pound Toronto-born defensemen, David Israel. He assisted four goals throughout the weekend, with his lone goal being the game winner, a deflection on the power play during overtime of game one, ending the game with a 5-4 win.  

Notable Gator performances: 

#9 Luke Braun: 2 goals, 1 assist 

#20 Connor Nicholson: 3 assists  

#29 Mason Burdick: 27/32 shots faced for a .844 SV% 

Following their gut-wrenching overtime loss, the Gators brought the heat during game two.  

An Owl’s deflection gave them the lead only 35 seconds into the game, but the Gators controlled the remainder of the period, aided by smooth skating, solid transitions and great shot selection.  

Just over two minutes after the game opening goal, Weinstein got his first of the season after deflecting freshman Zach Zelmanski’s shot from the point.  

With 10:29 left in the period, McCann put on a show by throwing a shot on net then picking up his own rebound and spinning around to move past an FAU defender and put it in the back of the net.  

Not to be understated was the incredible play by junior goalie Nathan Shield, who faced a couple of odd man rushes in the first, all of which he calmly turned away.  

FAU Defenseman Justin Greenberg was able to squeak one five hole through Shield following a shot from the blueline from Israel on the man advantage at the halfway point of the period.  

Three Florida players were called for three individual infractions, with the first called on senior defenseman John Coltellino, then 1:50 later, Edwards was called for holding. Just eight seconds later, a questionable crosscheck call on sophomore defensemen Matthew Brkljacic that gave FAU a 5-on-3 for almost two whole minutes.  

However, the Boca Raton team was unable to do anything with all the space on the ice and the Gators were able to gain momentum from a very active penalty kill.  

With 7:12 to go in the second, Braun was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and was given a bench penalty, carrying a 10-minute sentence in the box. Since it was a bench penalty, it did not give the opposing team the man-advantage and Weinstein was able to score his second of the night about 90 seconds later at even-strength.  

His goal started from a great individual effort from Nicholson, who used his speed to keep the puck in the zone and pass to Weinstein in front of the goalie, who was then able to shoot a couple of times then do his own little spin move to put it away and return the lead back to the Gators.  

Freshman center Max Thellab was especially noticeable during the second, causing a lot of FAU turnovers and forcing the Owls outside the blueline. Freshman LW Jackson Choi seemed to be everywhere you look as well, getting in between the legs of opposing players and stealing pucks left and right.  

The third line consisting of freshman Josh Shraiberg, Joshua Weinstein, and Connor Nicholson looked especially crisp, making tape-to-tape cross-ice passes and putting immense pressure on the Owl’s own third line.  

Shield started the third off with a pair of terrific saves, making some Marc Andre-Fleury-type windmill glove saves to keep the Gators ahead 3-2.  

Unfortunately, FAU was able to capitalize on an unorganized Gator defense and put together two incredible passing sequences that gave Shield no chance, giving the Owl’s their first lead since the two minute mark of the first, and seemed to be ten minutes away from closing out the sweep with a 4-3 victory. 

Yet the Gators were determined to prevent this at all costs. Their efforts were soon rewarded, too, as defenseman Horwitz kept an attempted FAU clearance in the zone following a breakaway chance from Braun, and was then able to take the puck straight down the middle of the ice and snap a beauty of a wrist shot to beat FAU goalie Gunnar Stevens and tie the game up late.  

Too cool to not mention: Horwitz, #44, was able to score on the 4-on-4 to make it 4-4.  

The rest of regulation was riddled with penalties, none of which amounted to anything on the scoresheet, forcing the tied game to go to extra minutes once more.  

The five minutes started with little action at center ice as both teams got set up. Then, only 37 seconds in, an innocent looking blue-line shot from Brkljacic deceived Stevens, who let the defenseman’s soft shot slip by his pads and into the net, giving the Gators their fourth win in their five most recent games and solidifying a spot towards the top of CHS South standings. Handing the Owl’s only their third loss of the year, the Gators proved they’re very much a contender within their respective CHS division, and will look to build off this win in a rematch against UCF this Sunday, which will serve as the finale to the Gators’ fall semester schedule.  

Notable Gator Performances: 

#91 Josh Weinstein: 2 goals  

#44 Jacob Horwitz: 1 goal, 1 assist 

#28 Nick McCann: 1 goal, 1 assist 

#39 Nathan Shield: 36/40 shots faced for a .900 SV% 

Barring any changes due to Tropical Storm Nicole, your Florida Gators will travel this Sunday to the RDV Ice Den in Orlando for a midday match against UCF, with puck drop scheduled for 1:30 PM. 

Edited by Makena Winch 

Getting Up to Speed with Gators Hockey 2022-2023

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 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 Anna Carrington and Ally Eames for all DIII-DII photos

Gators Finish Fourth in the CHF Playoffs

By Aileyahu Shanes

Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10

After coming up short in the 2019-20 season, the Gators finally made it to the conference playoffs. With an 8-9-1 CHS record, the Gators came into the tournament as the sixth seed, but looked to play past their ranking and create a big presence. 

The first matchup would be against the third-ranked Clemson Tigers. The Gators kept solid pace with them early on. Clemson found the back of the net first, with Connor Brydges scoring off feeds from James Conway and Cade Heinold short-handed. However, Florida was able to convert on a power play with 45 seconds left in the period. Phillip Vanderlaat would get the goal with Harrison Haber recording the assist. 

Unlike the first, Clemson took full control of the second. With just under fifteen minutes to play in the period, John McKeon would score, assisted by Jack Owen-Turner and Luke Dobbs, on a power play. Thirty seconds later, Brian Blomquist would extend Clemson’s lead to 3-1, with Cade Heinold getting his second assist and point on the play. Just fifteen seconds later, Herbert Kopf would convert on another Clemson power play, bringing the Tigers’ lead to three. At the end of the period, the Gators started to gain more control. With five minutes left in the frame, Parker Mara would score off assists from John Hunt and Matthew Brkljacic. Parker Mara would then get another goal with just three minutes to play in the second to cut Clemson’s lead to one. 

The Gators took that momentum straight into the last period. Three minutes into the third, Haber would get his first goal, and second point, of the game, assisted by John Coltellino, to tie the game at four. Phillip Vanderlaat would then give the Gators their first lead of the Game, with his second goal of the game, five minutes later off a John Hunt assist, his second of the night. John Hunt would take that momentum and get a goal of his own with seven minutes to play. Haber would get his third point of the night and Brkljacic would get his second on the play. Haber then continued his dominant performance with his second goal and fourth point of the game with six minutes to go, giving Florida a 7-4 lead. Assists went to Jacob Horwitz and John Hunt. After wracking up a plethora of assists, Brkljacic wanted to get a goal of his own. The freshman defenseman would score short-handed to give the Gators their final goal of the game. 

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The 8-2 win meant the Gators punched their ticket to the CHS semi-finals against the University of Georgia, who beat out the Auburn Tigers earlier that night. The player of the game for the Florida Gators was Harrison Haber, putting up two goals, two assists and four points; and the player of the game award for Clemson was given to Brian Blomquist, who put up a power play goal in the second period. 

The last time the Gators played the Bulldogs, they beat them in the Savannah Hockey Classic to help secure Florida’s Thrasher Cup victory. They were hoping to build on that momentum coming into the semi-final game, but Georgia was set on settling the score. 

The first period started with two Georgia goals. The first one came from freshman Trevor Gutmann off assists from Jack Gannon and Jacob Salaski. Gannon came up with the second goal, with Jackson Katz and George Mesaros both putting up assists. Later in the period, Phillip Vanderlaat put in his third goal of the tournament to cut the Bulldogs’ lead in half. Brkljacic and Mara would put up assists on the play, continuing their dominant playoff performances as well. 

The Gators turned things around in the second. Connor Nicholson would tie the game at two followed by a goal by Aidan Muruve to give the Gators a 3-2 lead. However, Matthew Bigda would tie the game at three for the Bulldogs, with Mesaros getting another assist. 

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The third period saw even more scoring. The Bulldogs took back control of the game with Jackson Katz scoring off feeds by Bigda and Mesaros. However, Brkljacic would tie the game at four, with an assist from John Hunt. From that point, however, Georgia took control of the game. Katz would find the back of the net again, assisted by defenseman Lleyton Poole. Mesaros would score the last goal of the game, with an assist going to Jack Gannon, to bring the final score to a 6-4 UGA victory. Parker Mara would take home player of the game for the Gators while Jackson Katz would get the honors for the Bulldogs. 

Although the Gators would not have the privilege of going to the championship game, they still had the chance to play in the third-place game against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama lost their semi-finals game against Florida Atlantic, who would move forward to take on Georgia in the championship. 

Alabama came into the CHS tournament the fifth-ranked team. In the first round, they upset the fourth-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but they came up short against the second-seeded FAU Owls. No matter the outcome, both teams would finish the tournament at a ranking higher than what they came into the playoffs with initially, but getting third place would be that much sweeter for both. 

The Gators started the game very well. Five minutes into the first, Connor Nicholson would score his second goal of the tournament from Brkljacic and Mara. Alabama would tie the game at one, however, just a minute later, with a goal from forward Dean Angelo. With just over a minute left in the period, Vanderlaat would score yet another goal for the Gators to regain the lead. Hunt and Haber would cash in on assists on the play.

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The Crimson Tide flipped the script in the middle frame, however. Six minutes into the period, Ryan Olson would tie the game at two, with assists going to Matt Brown and Max Savaloja. Just over a minute later, Alabama would get their first lead of the game. Joshua Beese would convert on the power play with an assist going to Easton Williamson. 

With the Gators down one coming into the final period of the playoffs, it was now or never for them to convert. The first half of the period was evenly matched, and defense controlled throughout, but Jacob Horwitz was finally able to find the back of the net with nine minutes to go. Nicholson would record the only assist on the play. With the way the game was going, it looked like Florida would hold Alabama to overtime; however, with a minute and a half left to play, Easton Williamson would score off a feed from Max Savaloja. The Gators would try hard to tie it up again, but Alabama shut down their defense. The Crimson Tide would take third place in the tournament with a 4-3 win over the Gators. Florida would take fourth place. Jacob Horwitz would take player of the game honors for Florida while Easton Williamson, who scored the game-winning goal, would take the honors for Alabama. 

Later that night, the Georgia Bulldogs would beat out the FAU Owls 4-2 in the championship game. The final playoff rankings are as follows: #1 Georgia Bulldogs, #2 FAU Owls, #3 Alabama Crimson Tide, #4 Florida Gators, #5 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, #6 Clemson Tigers, #7 Auburn Tigers, #8 MTSU Blue Raiders.

Although the Gators fell flat in the final two games of the playoffs, this season was still nothing short of a success. They accumulated a great CHS record, finished in eleventh in the CHF Southeast Region rankings, won the Thrasher Cup and placed fourth in the CHS playoffs. It will only get better from here next season. With young talent ready to take bigger roles on the team and with most of the veterans staying for at least one more season, the only direction this hockey team can go is up. 

Gators Gameday: Playoffs, Round 1 vs Clemson

By Aileyahu Shanes

Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10

The College Hockey South regular season is finally in the books, and the sixth-seed Florida Gators are ready to take on the playoffs, starting with the third-seed Clemson Tigers. The 2021-22 season wasn’t smooth sailing, but the Gators’ performance was enough to secure them a spot in the playoffs and potentially landing them a spot in the CHF nationals.

The first round of the playoffs will be played tonight. The first matchup of the night will be between the #1 Georgia Bulldogs and the #8 Auburn Tigers at 5:15pm CST / 6:15pm EST. The next game will feature the #4 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the #5 Alabama Crimson Tide. The game will be played at 5:30pm CST / 6:30pm EST. The third game of the night will be played between the #2 FAU Owls and the #7 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at 7:45pm CST / 8:45pm EST. The final game will take place between Florida and Clemson at 8:00pm CST / 9:00pm EST/

Clemson is a team that has found a lot of success this season. They accumulated a 9-1-1 CHS record and a 10-5-3 overall record. Their performance allowed them to not only secure the third seed in the CHS, but it also allowed them to be the tenth ranked team in the CHF Southeast Region.

 The leading scorer for the Tigers is Jacob Vander Leest. The forward put up 28 points, fifteen goals and thirteen assists in just seventeen games played. Vander Leest is currently a graduate student out of Downers Grove, Illinois. Another player to keep an eye on is freshman James Conway. The forward from Darien, Connecticut, recorded sixteen points in only ten games, including seven goals and nine assists. Cade Heinold is another player to watch. The forward is a sophomore out of Seneca, South Carolina, and put up 21 points, ten goals and eleven assists in seventeen games.

Although the Gators are the underdogs in this matchup, they have the talent and resilience to keep up with this Tiger team. The Gators finished the season with a respectable 8-2-1 CHS record and a 10-9-2 overall record. The Gators also rank closely with Clemson, as they are the eleventh ranked team in the CHF Southeast Region. With a full-strength team, they are sure to play far better than their rankings show.

All playoff games this weekend will be played at Benton H. Wilson Municipal Ice Complex in Huntsville, Alabama. Tickets to the CHS playoffs are sold as season-day passes. Adults are charged $10 per person while children and military members are charged $7 per person.

The team is also raising money in an effort to afford the costs of attending the CHS playoffs. If you would like to help out, be sure to check out the Go Fund Me and make a donation.

Gators Clinch Playoff Spot With Win Over FSU

By Aileyahu Shanes

Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10

The Gators officially clinched the College Hockey South Playoffs with their win over the Florida State Seminoles in Jacksonville this past Sunday. Florida wanted to end out their regular season with a bang and they accomplished that with their win.

UF made it difficult for FSU right out of the gate. The Gators would score three goals in the opening frame, while the Noles were only able to get one. Defenseman Xavier Morris recorded his first career collegiate goal. The other two goals were scored by John Hunt and Harrison Haber.

The second period saw a more defensive performance from both teams. However, Florida was still able to find a goal in the period. Winger Matt Gibbons would record this one. Just like Morris, this would be Gibbons first career goal.

The Seminoles fought back in the third period, scoring three goals. However, that wasn’t enough to take down the Gators, as they were able to pick up to more goals to end the game at 6-4. Connor Nicholson would get the first one for the team in the period, while Haber would find his second of the game off an empty netter.

Winning the Battle of Jacksonville officially punched the Gators ticket to Huntsville, Alabama for the CHS Playoffs. The Playoffs will go from Friday March 4th until Sunday March 6th. The Gators currently hold the fifth playoff spot; however, depending on the results from the Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss games, the standings are likely to change. Dominating in this tournament will be important, as the top four teams will be invited to play in the Collegiate Hockey Federation National Championship tournament.

Bulls Take Down a Short-Handed Gator Roster

By Aileyahu Shanes

Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10

After losing handedly their two games in Clearwater the week before, the Gators looked to take revenge on another team based in Tampa, the University of South Florida Bulls. Although they are not SECHC opponents, Florida had something to prove on Friday and Saturday in Wesley Chapel: to allow them to climb in the CHF rankings. However, the battle would be a tough one, as they would be missing John Coltellino and Andrew Kuczynksi for both games, and Harrison Haber and Matthew Brkljacic for the first. 

The first period started rocky for the Gators. They had trouble clearing the puck and played a sloppy game overall. USF was able to beat Mason Burdick twice in the period. The first one coming from senior forward Zachary Slezak, with an assist going to forward Tyler Young. The second goal came about halfway through the period from freshman Charles Rongo. It was evident that the Gators were very much missing defenseman Matthew Brkljacic, Andrew Kuczynski and John Coltellino.

​The second period felt the same way early on. With less than two minutes into the period, Alexander Rhoads put USF up by three. A large chunk of the period was very physical. Cheep shots were thrown everywhere, especially ones targeting Parker Mara. However, Mara got his revenge with about seven minutes to play, with a goal on the power play. A few minutes later Phillip Vanderlaat put in another powerplay goal for the Gators to cut the Bulls’ lead to one. Mason Burdick also looked a lot more comfortable between the pipes, coming up with dozens of clutch saves. 

The third period was also a battle to the finish. It got very physical all through out, and both teams were eager to secure the win. With 1:02 left in the game, Coach Marcinkiewz pulled Burdick for the extra attacker. Although the Gators had many opportunities, they were still not able get one past USF goaltender Matthew Richard. At the end of the game, it was 3-2 USF. 

Top players for the game include USF’s Alexander Rhoads, Matthew Richard, and UF’s Parker Mara. Rhoads was extremely noticeable all throughout the game. His production allowed him to put up a goal and an assist. Richard seemed like a brick wall out there for the Bulls. On 40 Gator shots, Richard put up 38 saves, for a .950 save percentage. Although Mara only put up a goal, his persistence throughout the game really made him stand out. He was constantly targeted and beat down with cheap shots, but he got up every time and played a great 200-foot game. 

The Gators hoped to avenge themselves the next day, this time having Haber and Brkljacic back. Although they put up more of a fight, they still managed to lose by a goal once again. 

Like the first game, the Gators struggled to find their footing in the first period. In the first five minutes of the game, Burdick would let in two goals. One came from Kevin Holman, assisted by Danila Mikheev. The other came from Charles Rongo, his second goal of the weekend. Just under ten minute to play in the period, Holman would find the back of the net again, off assists from Alexander Rhoads and Cameron King. 

The Gators put up a much better performance in the second, however. Less than three minutes in, Parker Mara would get a goal, continuing his impressive performance this weekend. Haber would score in his weekend debut with eight minutes to go in the second, and Phillip Vanderlaat would score his second of the weekend just a minute later, with Mara getting an assist, to tie the game at three. However, with just four minutes to play in the period, Rongowould get his second goal of the game, to bring the Bulls back on top. 

The third period saw a more even matchup between both teams. No scoring came in the first half of the frame, but with eight minutes to go, John Hunt would find his first and only point of the weekend with a goal off an assist from Vanderlaat. The game would only be tied at four for only a little under two minutes, as Alexander Rhoads would bring USF up 5-4, which would ultimately be the final score. 

The Gators definitely had a tough weekend. However, bright spots showed with Parker Mara and Phillip Vanderlaat stepping up with a team missing key players. Florida’s next game will be played against Florida Sate in the Battle for Jacksonville. Tickets are on sale now for $20. Each ticket will get you access to the game against the Seminoles, as well as access to the Jacksonville Icemen against the South Carolina Stingrays ECHL game.

The Gators were originally scheduled to play Lynn University this upcoming weekend in Palm Beach. However, the Lynn University hockey team’s equipment was damaged in a fire, and the game had to be canceled. The University of Florida hockey club and the SECHC are very understanding of the situation, and thankfully no one was hurt.

Gators Gameday: Preview vs South Florida

By Aileyahu Shanes

Follow on Twitter @a_shanes10

The Gators head right back to the Tampa area tonight and tomorrow to face another SCHC opponent. Florida suffered two deadly blows last weekend, but hopefully they can bounce back against the USF Bulls.

The University of South Florida currently ranks 8th in the CHF Southeast region and 14th nationally. The Bulls are currently under .500, with a record of 8-12-1. In their most recent game, USF fell to the University of Delaware 5-4 in overtime on January 30th.

The top point leaders for the Bulls are Danila Mikheev, Alexander Rhoads and Kevin Holman. Mikheev is a forward out of Khabarovsk, Russia. The junior has 22 points in 19 games and leads his team with 14 assists. Rhoads is a graduate student from Morgantown, Pennsylvania. The center has 20 points in just as many games and leads USF with 15 goals. Holman is a hometown Tampa native. He is currently a junior and is averaging just under a point per game with 19 points in 20 games.

The current state of the Gators took a bit of a hit after their matchups against the University of Tampa. They now rank 11th in the CHF Southeast region, after ranking 8th last week, and are 18th nationally, after being in the 11th spot a week prior. They currently have an 8-4-1 overall record and are still in a prime position for an SECHC playoff spot.

John Hunt, Parker Mara and Harrison Haber are still Florida’s leading point scorers. Hunt has 33 points in 15 games and leads the team in both goals (17) and assists (16). Mara also has over a point per game, putting up 18 points in 13 games. The same also holds true with Haber, who has 15 points in 12 games.

The first game will be played tonight at 7:00pm at Advent Health Center Ice in Wesley Chapel. This will be the Gators first game at home since late September against Tennessee. Game 2 will be played the next day, with an early 3:15pm puck drop. The game will also be played at Advent Health Center Ice, but it will technically be considered a USF home game.