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FGCU Sweeps University of Massachusetts-Amherst Heading Into Winter Break

FGCU+Sweeps+University+of+Massachusetts-Amherst+Heading+Into+Winter+Break
Blake Stafford @bstaff7

On Dec. 8 and 9, FGCU’s Division II hockey team welcomed the 11-6-1 University of Massachusetts–Amherst Minutemen for their final weekend doubleheader of the fall semester. The Eagles entered this game coming off of a weekend sweep against rival Liberty University. They looked to do the same against UMass to end the year strong.

The Eagles started the game by winning the initial faceoff.  They quickly turned that good start into a goal from sophomore forward Dylan Castello for the Eagles’ first goal off of a power play.  

Penalties were a consistent issue throughout the weekend. This would later be impactful in both games for the Minutemen, as the Eagles took better advantage of constant power play opportunities. 

UMass went on to score the next goal to tie the game up 1-1 early in the first period. However, the game quickly came to a pause due to an injury. Junior defenseman Michael Mucci went down on the ice hard and had to be carried off. Before he exited the rink, he gave a thumbs up before leaving, assuring the crowd that he would be back.

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After the game resumed, UMass immediately scored to take their first and only lead of the weekend games. Not even a minute later, FGCU tied the game back up with a goal by senior forward Dawson Zahorian to end the first period tied 2-2. 

The Eagles started off the second period in aggression fashion. A small scuffle broke out between the two teams early. Luckily the scuffle resulted in no penalties called on either team.  

Both teams struggled to get shots on goal as defense was the name of the game in the second period. However, a few minutes later, senior forward Jack Cohen ended the Eagles’ dry spell with his third goal of the season.

As the game continued, penalties began to rack up. FGCU was given a penalty for slashing, while UMass had one for tripping. Physicality continued to increase between both teams, which played in the Minutemen’s favor as they scored their third goal to tie up the game halfway through the second period.

The second period ended in dramatic fashion as Zahorian punched in a last-second goal to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead.

At the start of the third period, UMass rallied back as they immediately scored. This would tie the game up for the final time, as FGCU proceeded to shutout UMass for the rest of the game. FGCU went on to score three more goals to end the game with a 7-4 FGCU win.

These three goals came from three FGCU sophomores. The first was from the Eagles’ leading goal scorer, forward Shayne Tomlinson. Defenseman Brady Carlock took advantage of a power play to score the second goal. Finally, forward Adam Beauvias ended the successful run of scores with a goal for himself.

As the Eagles headed into the second game of the doubleheader, they looked to maintain their dominant performance to sweep the weekend games. FGCU needed to counter UMass’ aggressive play style which was a hindrance for the Eagles in the first two periods of game one.

This aggressive nature played into the Eagles’ favor as they scored off a UMass penalty to take the first lead of the game. Cohen claimed FGCU’s first goal off a pass from junior forward Thomas Zebley, which resulted in a tap-in goal.

The rest of the period continued with neither team being able to score another goal. Although the score did not give the Eagles justice, their offense had been a staple throughout the weekend. FGCU obtained 12 shots on goal compared to UMass’ four to that point. The defining factor that kept the Minutemen in the game was their goalie, who saved 11 shots to this point.

FGCU continued this momentum going into the second period as their offense began to take over. It took the Eagles five minutes to punch in their second goal of the game by sophomore forward Jake Court. The run of goals continued as junior forward Carson Engelmann scored another goal only three minutes later.

All the Minutemen could do in return was respond with just a goal for themselves off of a power play. This ended the second period with a FGCU lead, 3-1.

The third period started off with FGCU winning the faceoff, yet it was called back due to a scoreboard malfunction. The officials called it back to FGCU’s dismay. However, this only fueled the Eagles’ fire as they went on to score two more goals before the game was said and done.

Zebley scored the first of the last two goals in the 15th minute, with an assist from Carlock. The final goal was scored by sophomore defenseman Enzo Tarducci with 21 seconds left when UMass pulled their goalie in a last-ditch effort to keep it close, while FGCU closed up the game.

In the third period, UMass was only able to score one more goal, ending the game with a final score of 5-2. FGCU swept the weekend, which was able to further solidify their ranking at the top of the ACHA Southeast.

Heading into the winter break, FGCU is ranked as the second best team in all four regions of ACHA Division II competition. The Eagles will play their next game against the University of Minnesota on Jan. 5 and 6.

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About the Contributor
Jeffrey Hrunka, Assistant Sports Editor
Jeffrey Hrunka is a junior double majoring in communications and journalism with a concentration in public relations. Jeffrey is from Fort Myers where his interest in sports journalism originated after falling in love with the world of motorsports. When he’s not working for Eagle News, he is usually spending time with friends, watching the New York Giants lose, or chilling in the pool.

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